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Brown-Forman Posts Flat Fiscal Year Sales As Covid-19 Disrupts Fourth Quarter

June 9, 2020

Brown-Forman saw sales remain flat at $3.4 billion in its fiscal year through April, as a 10% slide to $709 million in its fourth quarter offset positive results earlier in the year. On an underlying basis, operating income fell 27% to $187 million in the fourth quarter, and 6% to $1.1 billion for the full fiscal year.

“Covid-19 began to affect our performance in the middle of March and continued throughout April as both on-premise—representing approximately 20% of our business globally—and travel retail channels essentially came to a halt,” noted executive vice president and CFO Jane Morreau. The on-premise downturn was partially countered by strong off-premise and e-commerce growth in developed markets during the lockdown period, she added.

While the pandemic cut into Brown-Forman’s fourth quarter, the company still recorded 5% underlying sales growth in the U.S. for the fiscal year, fueled by last fall’s launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple and double-digit gains for Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Jack Daniel’s RTDs, Herradura, and El Jimador. Woodford and Old Forester recently earned Impact “Hot Brand” honors after increasing 22% to 792,000 cases and 22% to 271,000 cases in the U.S. last year, respectively.—Daniel Marsteller

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