Jack Daniel’s Maker Beats Estimates as Whiskey Demand Grows

Brown-Forman Corp.’s quarterly sales and profit topped analysts’ estimates after the maker of Jack Daniel’s benefited from resurgent whiskey demand.

Excluding some items, earnings amounted to about 83 cents in the fourth quarter, which ended on April 30. Analysts had estimated 72 cents on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Though the strong U.S. dollar hampered overseas sales, Brown-Forman posted better-than-projected sales of $729 million. Analysts predicted $713.1 million.

The alcohol industry is seeing fresh interest in American whiskey and other “brown liquors,” both from younger drinkers and overseas consumers. That’s prompted Brown-Forman to fine-tune its product portfolio. The company sold its Southern Comfort and Tuaca liqueurs to Sazerac Co. and has been mulling the sale of its Finlandia vodka brand. Brown-Forman also announced this year that it was re-entering the single malt Scotch category by acquiring the BenRiach Distillery Co.

“Against a favorable backdrop of global interest in American whiskey, we invested capital to expand our capacity,” Chief Executive Officer Paul Varga said in Wednesday’s statement announcing the company’s results.

Brown-Forman shares rose 2.3 percent to $99.58 as of 10:33 a.m. in New York. The stock had been down 1.9 percent this year before Wednesday’s gain.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based company also said that it expects earnings of $3.42 to $3.62 a share this year, with sales growing 4 percent to 6 percent. Currency fluctuations will remain a challenge, though, stripping 7 cents a share from earnings, the company said.

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