Jack Daniel’s maker Brown-Forman has again cut its forecasts on a pair of closely-watched sales and profit metrics.

For the second time in three months, the US spirits major has revised its targets for its annual organic net sales and organic operating income.

Citing a “challenging operating environment”, Brown-Forman expects its organic net sales to be flat in the fiscal year to the end of April.

In December, the Woodford Reserve owner cut its forecast for organic net sales growth from 5-7% to 3-5%.

Brown-Forman is now forecasting its organic operating income will, at best, be up 2% year on year, or, at worst, flat.

The company’s December forecast was for growth of 4-6%, itself down from an earlier 6-8% prediction.

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“The operating environment continues to be challenging following two years of double-digit organic net sales growth,” Brown-Forman said today (6 March). “With the evolving global macroeconomic conditions and normalising industry trends, we are tempering our expectations.”

Shares in Brown-Forman were down 7.62% at $56.04 at 16:29 GMT today.

In a note to clients, Barclays analyst Lauren Lieberman said: “To be sure, that operating profit guidance had been seen as at risk (our model tied to circa 3% growth heading into the print) but the new outlook is for just 0​-​2% growth.

“Looking ahead, and with the company hosting an investor day later this month, we think the key question will be to what degree have industry inventories – in the US, in particular – been cleaned up such that growth can get back to a more normal trajectory in fiscal year 2025.”

The new forecasts came alongside the publication of Brown-Forman’s financial results for the nine months and third quarter to the end of January.

In the nine-month period, the company’s net sales were up 1% at $3.21bn. Sales slipped 1% in the third quarter to $1.07bn.

Brown-Forman said the growth it saw in its “emerging” markets and in travel retail in the nine months was partially offset by lower sales in the US and its “developed international” territories.

Whisk(e)y net sales fell 2% – and by 1% on organic basis – amid lower volumes for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. Brown-Forman said its whisk(e)y portfolio had lapped “strong results” from the previous year.

The sales of the company’s New Mix RTD rose 17% organically. Net sales from Tequila were down 3% on an organic basis.

Nine-month operating income was up 25% to $1.04bn, helped by higher gross margins, the impact of M&A – including the gain on the sale of Finlandia – and the absence of last year’s impairment on the vodka brand. On an organic basis, operating income increased 2%.

Net income was 32% higher at $758m.

In a statement, president and CEO Lawson Whiting said: “In a year with significant uncertainty and complexity in the spirits industry, Brown-Forman has demonstrated continued resilience and agility following two years of double-digit organic net sales growth. As industry trends have normalised, we have expanded our gross margin, executed our strategic priorities, and invested behind the business. As we look to the end of the fiscal year, we remain confident in the strength of our portfolio and our ability to deliver long-term growth.”

AllianceBernstein analyst Nadine Sarwat said: “Spirits – especially the US – has evolved into a ‘show me’ story over the past few quarters. Many investors we speak to still believe in the long-term growth of the sector, both in terms of volume and price-mix growth. However, they are cautious about trying to catch a falling knife as the sector continues its path of normalization. With Brown-Forman cutting its F24 guidance once again, today’s results are likely to reinforce this narrative.”