Brown-Forman Profit Rises on Sales in Europe, Asia

(Corrects spelling of Varga in fifth paragraph.)

Brown-Forman Corp. (BF/B), the maker of Jack Daniel's whiskey, said second-quarter profit rose 4.5 percent on higher sales in Europe and Asia and the acquisition of Casa Herradura tequilas. The company narrowed the range of its full-year earnings forecast.

Net income climbed to $129.4 million, or $1.04 a share, from $123.8 million, or $1, a year earlier, the Louisville, Kentucky-based company said today in a statement. Profit in the latest quarter exceeded analysts' estimates.

Brown-Forman sold more Jack Daniel's in Europe and Japan, where the whiskey is seen as an American icon, and benefited from a weaker dollar.

International sales of Jack Daniel's made up for sagging U.S. sales growth, which has slowed four percentage points in the last six months from last year. Consumers concerned about the economy will ``trade down'' for less expensive wine and beer, Chief Executive Officer Paul Varga said.

``It used to be at Brown-Forman that if U.S. sales were off, we felt it throughout the company,'' Varga said on a conference call with analysts. ``This international business is very significant for our company. We are so, so optimistic about what's going on internationally for not just Jack Daniels but our other brands.

Brown-Forman's Class B shares fell $2.79, or 3.9 percent, to $69.20 at 11:03 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have gained 8.7 percent this year before today.

Earnings Outlook

Brown-Forman narrowed its full-year profit forecast to $3.42 to $3.54 a share, from $3.35 to $3.55. The forecasts include 13 cents to 18 cents per share in dilution from the Herradura acquisition. The company has said Herradura will start adding to earnings in 2009.

Four analysts in a Bloomberg survey had an average estimate of $1 a share.

Sales increased 23 percent to $893.4 million, beating the $835.1 million average estimate of analysts.

Brown-Forman has raised prices on Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Southern Comfort liqueur and Finlandia vodka to cover higher costs for grain and fuel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at mcredeur@bloomberg.net.

Oliver Staley in New York at ostaley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Nol at mnol@bloomberg.net.

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