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Brown-Forman Reports Year-to-Date Results; Revises Full-Year Outlook

Posted on March 04, 2020

Louisville, Ky.—Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE: BFA) (NYSE: BFB) reported financial results for its third quarter and nine months ended January 31, 2020. For the third quarter, the company’s reported net sales1 were essentially flat at $899 million (+3% on an underlying basis2) compared to the same prior-year period. Reported operating income decreased 5% to $304 million (+5% on an underlying basis) and diluted earnings per share rose 2% to $0.48.

For the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company’s reported net sales increased 3% to $2.7 billion (+3% on an underlying basis). Reported operating income decreased 1% to $904 million (-1% on an underlying basis) and diluted earnings per share increased 4% to $1.45.

Lawson Whiting, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer said, "Today, we revised our full-year outlook to reflect tempered expectations in some of our international markets as well as the increasingly uncertain global economic and geopolitical environment. While we are cautious regarding our near-term outlook, we continue to build our business, as we always have, for the long term. We believe the strength of our brands and the health of our balance sheet places Brown-Forman in a strong position both today and for the long term."

Year-to-Date Fiscal 2020 Highlights

  • Underlying net sales grew 3% (+3% reported), maintaining growth consistent with the first half of fiscal 2020
    • The United States and emerging markets each grew underlying net sales 6% (+7% and +4% reported, respectively), while our developed international markets grew underlying net sales 2% (flat reported)
    • Jack Daniel’s family of brands grew underlying net sales 3% (+2% reported) driven by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple in the United States, Jack Daniel’s RTDs in Germany and the United States, and broad-based growth of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
    • Premium bourbons grew underlying net sales 22% (+25% reported) led by Woodford Reserve’s 19% underlying net sales growth (+22% reported) and propelled by even stronger net sales growth from Old Forester, our founding brand celebrating its 150th year
    • Our tequila portfolio grew underlying net sales 10% (+9% reported), led by Herradura’s 20% underlying net sales growth (+20% reported) and el Jimador’s 11% underlying net sales growth (+8% reported)
    • Non-branded and bulk underlying net sales declined 27% (-28% reported) reflecting lower used barrel demand and a reduction in bulk whiskey sales
  • Diluted earnings per share increased 4% to $1.45

Year-to-Date Fiscal 2020 Results By Market - Net Sales Growth Led by the United States

Year-to-date underlying net sales in the United States grew 6% (+7% reported). Top-line gains were driven by continued double-digit growth from our premium bourbons, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, the launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, and double-digit underlying net sales growth in aggregate from Herradura and el Jimador. Sustained double-digit growth of Jack Daniel’s RTDs3 also contributed to our largest market’s growth with solid underlying net sales.

Underlying net sales in the company’s emerging markets grew 6% (+4% reported) accelerating slightly in the quarter reflecting volume gains for the Jack Daniel’s family of brands. Russia delivered strong underlying net sales growth up 15% (+14% reported) driven by expanding consumer demand for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Poland’s underlying net sales improved in the quarter lifting underlying net sales growth year-to-date to 6% (+3% reported) driven by strong growth for the Jack Daniel’s family of brands. Brazil grew underlying net sales 6% (+12% reported) fueled by higher volumes of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire. In a weakening economy, Mexico’s underlying net sales growth moderated to 2% (+1% reported).

Our developed international markets grew underlying net sales 2% (flat reported). Germany’s underlying net sales grew 5% (+6% reported) fueled by volume growth for Jack Daniel’s RTDs. France grew underlying net sales 3% (+3% reported) reflecting higher volumes of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and the launch of Jack Daniel’s RTDs, which were partially offset by declines of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Australia’s underlying net sales grew 1% (-2% reported) as gains from the super-premium American whiskey portfolio offset declines of Jack Daniel’s RTDs. In the United Kingdom, underlying net sales declined 7% (-9% reported) driven by softness in the cash and carry channel and short-term disruptions from changes to our promotional strategy and upcoming route-to-market transition.

Travel Retail’s underlying net sales declined 3% (-4% reported) as lower volumes for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey offset volume gains from Woodford Reserve.

Underlying net sales for the company’s non-branded business, largely comprised of used barrels, bulk whiskey, and contract bottling, declined 27% (-28% reported) year-to-date. This reduction was largely driven by lower volumes and prices for used barrels and a reduction in bulk whiskey sales.

Year-to-Date Fiscal 2020 Results By Brand

The company’s underlying net sales growth was led by the Jack Daniel’s family of brands, up 3% (+2% reported). The launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple in the United States, sustained growth of Jack Daniel’s RTDs led by Germany, the United States, and France, and solid international growth of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Gentleman Jack drove the family of brand’s growth. Underlying net sales of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey were flat (-2% reported) as growth in emerging markets was offset by declines in the United Kingdom and Travel Retail. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey reported 7% (+4% reported) underlying net sales growth reflecting broad-based volumetric gains led by France, Czechia, Poland and the United States, while Gentleman Jack grew underlying net sales 7% (+3% reported) driven by Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Brown-Forman’s portfolio of premium bourbon brands, including Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, continued their double-digit underlying net sales growth of 22% (+25% reported). Woodford Reserve, the leader in the super-premium bourbon category, surpassed the one million 9L case mark during the quarter growing underlying net sales 19% (+22% reported) during the nine months ended January 31, 2020. Woodford Reserve’s growth was led by the United States, where consumer takeaway trends remain strong, along with broad-based volume growth internationally. Old Forester, celebrating its 150th year, maintained an even faster rate of underlying net sales growth powered by volumetric gains and favorable mix from the brand’s high-end expressions.

Brown-Forman’s tequila brands sustained double-digit underlying net sales growth led by Herradura 20% (+20% reported) and el Jimador 11% (+8% reported). Herradura’s underlying net sales growth was driven by higher volumes, favorable product mix, and higher pricing in the United States and Mexico. el Jimador’s underlying net sales growth was driven by higher volumes in the United States as consumer takeaway trends remain strong.

Year-to-Date Fiscal 2020 Other P&L Items

Company-wide price/mix improvements contributed approximately 1% to the increase in underlying net sales reflecting faster growth from higher-priced brands led by the Jack Daniel’s family of brands and Woodford Reserve coupled with 2% volume growth. Underlying gross profit was flat (-1% reported) and reported gross margin contracted 220 bps to 63.1% driven by higher input costs and tariff-related costs. Higher input costs reflect the continued cost pressures from agave and wood.

Underlying advertising expense grew 3% (+1% reported) reflecting increased investment to support the launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple as well as increased spending on Woodford Reserve. Underlying SG&A was flat year-to-date (-1% reported) driven by lower compensation-related expenses. Underlying operating income declined 1% (-1% reported).

Financial Stewardship

On January 28, 2020, the Brown-Forman Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.1743 per share on the Class A and Class B common stock, resulting in an annualized cash dividend of $0.6972 per share. The quarterly cash dividend is payable on April 1, 2020, to stockholders of record on March 9, 2020. Brown-Forman has paid regular quarterly cash dividends for 74 consecutive years and has increased the dividend for 36 consecutive years.

Fiscal Year 2020 Outlook

The company revised the full-year outlook to reflect tempered expectations in some of its international markets reflecting both short-term disruptions and an increasingly uncertain global economic and geopolitical environment. This outlook also includes an estimated impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

  • Low-single digit underlying net sales growth
  • Flat to modest decline in underlying operating income
  • Diluted earnings per share of $1.75 to $1.80

Conference Call Details

Brown-Forman will host a conference call to discuss these results at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) today. All interested parties in the United States are invited to join the conference call by dialing 888-624-9285 and asking for the Brown-Forman call. International callers should dial +1-706-679-3410. The company suggests that participants dial in ten minutes in advance of the 10:00 a.m. (EDT) start of the conference call. A live audio broadcast of the conference call, and the accompanying presentation slides, will also be available via Brown-Forman’s Internet website, http://www.brown-forman.com/, through a link to “Investors/Events & Presentations.” A digital audio recording of the conference call and the presentation slides will also be posted on the website and will be available for at least 30 days following the conference call.

For nearly 150 years, Brown-Forman Corporation has enriched the experience of life by responsibly building fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including the Jack Daniel’s Family of Brands, Finlandia, Korbel, el Jimador, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Coopers’ Craft, Canadian Mist, Herradura, New Mix, Sonoma-Cutrer, Early Times, Chambord, BenRiach, GlenDronach, Slane, and Fords Gin. Brown-Forman’s brands are supported by approximately 4,700 employees and sold in more than 170 countries worldwide. For more information about the company, please visit http://www.brown-forman.com/.

Important Information on Forward-Looking Statements:

This press release contains statements, estimates, and projections that are “forward-looking statements” as defined under U.S. federal securities laws. Words such as “aim,” “anticipate,” “aspire,” “believe,” “can,” “continue,” “could,” “envision,” “estimate,” “expect,” “expectation,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “project,” “pursue,” “see,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” “would,” and similar words indicate forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date we make them. Except as required by law, we do not intend to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties, and other factors (many beyond our control) that could cause our actual results to differ materially from our historical experience or from our current expectations or projections. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to:

  • Unfavorable global or regional economic conditions and related low consumer confidence, high unemployment, weak credit or capital markets, budget deficits, burdensome government debt, austerity measures, higher interest rates, higher taxes, political instability, higher inflation, deflation, lower returns on pension assets, or lower discount rates for pension obligations
  • Risks associated with being a U.S.-based company with global operations, including commercial, political, and financial risks; local labor policies and conditions; protectionist trade policies, or economic or trade sanctions, including additional retaliatory tariffs on American spirits and the effectiveness of our actions to mitigate the negative impact on our margins, sales, and distributors; compliance with local trade practices and other regulations, including anti-corruption laws; terrorism; and health pandemics (such as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak)
  • Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, particularly a stronger U.S. dollar
  • Changes in laws, regulations, or policies – especially those that affect the production, importation, marketing, labeling, pricing, distribution, sale, or consumption of our beverage alcohol products
  • Tax rate changes (including excise, sales, VAT, tariffs, duties, corporate, individual income, dividends, or capital gains) or changes in related reserves, changes in tax rules or accounting standards, and the unpredictability and suddenness with which they can occur
  • The impact of U.S. tax reform legislation, including as a result of future clarifications and guidance interpreting the statute
  • Dependence upon the continued growth of the Jack Daniel’s family of brands
  • Changes in consumer preferences, consumption, or purchase patterns – particularly away from larger producers in favor of small distilleries or local producers, or away from brown spirits, our premium products, or spirits generally, and our ability to anticipate or react to them; legalization of marijuana use on a more widespread basis; shifts in consumer purchase practices from traditional to e-commerce retailers; bar, restaurant, travel, or other on-premise declines; shifts in demographic or health and wellness trends; or unfavorable consumer reaction to new products, line extensions, package changes, product reformulations, or other product innovation
  • Decline in the social acceptability of beverage alcohol in significant markets
  • Production facility, aging warehouse, or supply chain disruption
  • Imprecision in supply/demand forecasting
  • Higher costs, lower quality, or unavailability of energy, water, raw materials, product ingredients, labor, or finished goods
  • Route-to-consumer changes that affect the timing of our sales, temporarily disrupt the marketing or sale of our products, or result in higher fixed costs
  • Inventory fluctuations in our products by distributors, wholesalers, or retailers
  • Competitors’ and retailers’ consolidation or other competitive activities, such as pricing actions (including price reductions, promotions, discounting, couponing, or free goods), marketing, category expansion, product introductions, or entry or expansion in our geographic markets or distribution networks
  • Risks associated with acquisitions, dispositions, business partnerships, or investments – such as acquisition integration, termination difficulties or costs, or impairment in recorded value
  • Inadequate protection of our intellectual property rights
  • Product recalls or other product liability claims, product counterfeiting, tampering, contamination, or quality issues
  • Significant legal disputes and proceedings, or government investigations
  • Failure or breach of key information technology systems
  • Negative publicity related to our company, brands, marketing, personnel, operations, business performance, or prospects
  • Failure to attract or retain key executive or employee talent
  • Our status as a family “controlled company” under New York Stock Exchange rules, and our dual-class share structure

For further information on these and other risks, please refer to the “Risk Factors” section of our annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

Website: http://www.brown-forman.com/

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