Todhunter International, the rum and brandy distiller and drinks importer and marketer has reported net sales for fiscal 2003's fourth quarter of US$24,567,338 compared with US$24,094,525 reported for fiscal 2002's fourth quarter.

Gross profit was US$7,816,567 compared to US$7,796,601 in the same period last year, and fourth-quarter net income was US$1,574,988, or US$0.28 per diluted share, compared with net income of US$476,196, or US$0.08 per diluted share, one year ago.

For fiscal 2003, net sales were US$90,444,293 versus US$96,839,413 in fiscal 2002. Gross profit was US$29,269,680 compared to US$31,138,758 and net income in 2003 was US$3,403,030 compared to net income of US$5,446,731 reported in 2002.

Commenting on the results, Jay S. Maltby, chairman and chief executive officer said: "We were pleased by the fourth quarter improvement versus last year in net sales, gross profit and net income. However, as expected, net sales, gross profit and operating income for the year were primarily affected by decreased volume in our contract bottling operations. We are currently consolidating our bottling operations to increase efficiencies and reduce overhead in the future. We have already begun to realize cost savings in the first quarter of fiscal 2004, and expect these cost savings to increase in the second, third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2004.

"Also affecting our operating income result was an increase in selling and marketing expenses related to our Cruzan Rum brand as we continue to invest  aggressively in our brand-promoting activities. Despite increased competition in 2003 in the flavored rum category, our focus on Cruzan, coupled with the continued investment in our marketing activities, resulted in an increase in our case sales of Cruzan Rum of 16% in fiscal 2003 on top of a 35% increase in fiscal 2002."