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Brown-Forman 4Q profit drops, revenue climbs

June 6, 2012
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LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Brown-Forman's fourth-quarter net income dropped 37 percent compared with one year ago, when the liquor company pocketed proceeds from the sale of its Fetzer Vineyards.

Its revenue topped Wall Street estimates and its shares rose 2 percent in morning trading.

The company reported Wednesday that it earned $104.5 million, or 73 cents per share, for the three months ended April 30. That's down from $165.4 million, or $1.13 per share, a year earlier.

In addition to comparisons to last year when Fetzer was sold to Chilean wine producer Vina Concha y Toro S.A. for $238 million, Brown-Forman also cited unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected earnings of 76 cents per share.

Revenue increased 1 percent to $801.3 million from $791.3 million, topping Wall Street's average estimate of $769.6 million.

Full-year earnings fell 10 percent to $513.2 million, or $3.56 per share, from $571.6 million, or $3.90 per share, in the prior year.

Annual revenue rose 6 percent to $3.61 billion from $3.4 billion, with sales of Jack Daniel's climbing 12 percent.

CEO Paul Varga said that Brown-Forman has partially absorbed cost increases over the last several years, but that it expects higher prices to contribute more to its total revenue growth going forward.

For fiscal 2013, Brown-Forman Corp., based in Louisville, Ky., anticipates earnings of $3.60 to $4 per share, with revenue up by a high single-digit percentage rate.

Analysts forecast full-year earnings of $3.97 per share.

Its Class B shares rose $1.67, or 2 percent, to $86.41 in morning trading. They are near the high end of their 52-week range of $62.14 to $88.72 per share.

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