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US: Fortune Brands toasts sales, profits rises in 2010

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  • Spirits sales up by 8%
  • Group profits double on 2009
  • Says demerger on-track

The owner of Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Fortune Brands, has said that an increase in sales and a leap in profits in 2010 have reinforced the group's decision to split its three business divisions.

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Strong demand for spirits helped Fortune Brands to report a 7% rise in net sales for the 12 months to the end of December, to US$7.1bn. Sales at Beam Global, which includes brands such as Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and Sauza Tequila, reported sales up by 8% on 2009, to $2.66bn.

The drinks unit increased its momentum in the fourth quarter, with sales up by almost 10% to $818m, it said today (4 February).

Fortune's net profits doubled for the year, to $496m, boosted by tax gains and flattered by one-off charges in the previous year. The group said that its results make it even more confident of its plan to separate its three business division, spirits, home and golf, in 2011.

"Our 2010 results reinforce our confidence that this is the right time to separate our three businesses to maximise long-term value for shareholders," said Fortune's CEO, Bruce Carbonari. He noted that the group has emerged stronger than expected from the global financial crisis.

"We expect each business will be equipped to compete and grow on its own with the management, infrastructure, capital structure and growth and returns prospects necessary for success," he said. Analysts strongly expect takeover bids for a standalone Beam Global, with Diageo considered a frontrunner for the division's Bourbon brands.

Carbonari said that spirits sales achieved a new record in 2010, due to "solid growth in the US, good performance in Europe, and double-digit growth in emerging markets and global travel retail".

Operating profits for Beam Global rose by 12% to $544m for the 12 months. Fortune Brands' operating profits increased by 50% for the year, to $764m.

For the full announcement, click here.


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