Preview: Brown-Forman FY to measure industry spirits
Investors will await the results with a certain amount of trepidation after Brown-Forman was forced to lower its earnings estimates by $0.30, following slowing third quarter sales and tough currency rates. The group is also cutting 250 jobs out of a global workforce of around 4,100.
That news sent B-F's share price tumbling to a year low of $35. It has since recovered to around $45, with a jolt noticeable during April rumours that the group had entered talks with Bacardi over a potential tie-up, and also that it might be bought out by Diageo. Don't expect much from either in the short-term, in our opinion.
Destocking has been the demon in the US drinks market so far this year, as suppliers cut inventory levels due to uncertainty over future levels of consumer demand.
Recent figures suggest that this has eased off slightly in the last couple of months, covering B-F's fourth quarter.
Based on figures from control states (NABCA) in the US, analyst group Sanford Bernstein estimated last week that US spirits growth was running at a better-than-expected 3% year-on-year.
"If the trends of the last two months continue, we would have to increase estimates," said Bernstein.
"However, we believe it is too early to break out the bubbly. The strongest economic correlation for alcohol consumption is with unemployment and it is possible that as unemployment continues to rise (albeit at a slightly slower rate), volume growth will slow down again, creating a 'W-shaped' recession."
For B-F, the group also faces problems in Australia, where it was hit during its fiscal year by the country's tax hike on ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages.
Expect a tough FY statement, in other words, but perhaps with hints of an uplift in Q4.
For Brown-Forman's most recent results, click here.
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