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US: Fortune Brands in high Q1 spirits

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Fortune Brands has raised full-year earnings guidance after a strong start to 2010.

The parent company of Beam Global Spirits & Wine said today (27 April) that results for the first quarter of 2010 will show that the company has rebounded from a disappointing start to 2009.

Increased demand for spirits has helped Fortune to a 13% rise in net sales for the three months to the end of March, said the firm. Net sales were US$1.44bn in the same period of last year, down 20% on the first quarter of 2008.

"Fortune Brands is off to an excellent start in 2010,” said Bruce Carbonari, chairman and CEO of Fortune, which will publish full first-quarter figures on 29 April.

Underlying diluted earnings per share (EPS) are expected to be $.0.49, up 63% on the first quarter of 2009, said Fortune, whose Beam Global unit owns Maker's Mark and Jim Beam Bourbons, Sauza Tequila and Courvoisier Cognac.

The company is now targeting to deliver EPS before charges/gains for 2010 in the range of $2.50 to $2.80 versus its prior target of $2.30 to $2.80.

"Each of our three brand groups performed above our expectations in the quarter as we gained share in key product categories and the consumer environment was better than anticipated," said Carbonari.

"We are holding the high end of our range because there is still uncertainty in global economies and it remains to be seen how the expiration of US Government stimulus programmes will impact home products demand.

"In addition, raw materials costs have increased, the US dollar has strengthened and, as previously indicated, we are increasing high-return strategic investment in our brands to capitalise on the improved consumer environment.”

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