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Tennessee Honey, Upscale Whiskies Drive 7% Sales Growth For Brown-Forman

March 5, 2014

The ongoing expansion of flavored Bourbon offering Tennessee Honey—along with solid progress in the super-premium whiskey segment—led to 7% underlying sales growth to $3.05 billion for Brown-Forman in the nine months through January, representing the first three quarters of the company’s fiscal year. Brown-Forman’s underlying U.S. market sales rose 4% during the period, as Tennessee Honey grew by double-digits and high-end whiskies like Woodford Reserve also continued to advance. According to Impact Databank, Tennessee Honey jumped 23% by volume in the U.S. in calendar 2013, to nearly 600,000 cases, and surpassed 1 million cases globally on 45% growth.

Globally, Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s family of brands saw sales rise 10% over the past nine months, with flagship Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey increasing by 8% and Gentleman Jack up 15%. Among other whiskies, Woodford Reserve posted 27% global growth for the nine-month period, with U.S. volume up 22% to 220,000 cases in calendar 2013, according to Impact Databank. Oft-overlooked Bourbon brands Old Forester and Early Times were also in growth in Brown-Forman’s year-to-date, increasing underlying sales by 13% and 3% respectively.

Outside the whiskey category, Brown-Forman’s Tequila Herradura rose 4% year-to-date, while El Jimador was up 1%. Finlandia vodka also continued to progress, advancing 9% on strong growth in Russia and Poland. In wine, Chardonnay specialist Sonoma-Cutrer enjoyed high single-digit growth over the nine months, while Korbel inclined by low single-digits. Among the Brown-Forman brands facing more challenging conditions, Southern Comfort declined by mid single-digits in the U.S., owing mainly to a continuing slide in the on-premise, where the company noted that the climate remains “extremely competitive.”

Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga said that, owing to the strong overall results, the group has raised its full-year outlook and is now projecting a low double-digit gain in underlying operating profit for the 12 months through April.

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