Brown-Forman Reports First Quarter Results; Reaffirms Full Year Growth Outlook for Fiscal 2020

Published : Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 4:45 am
ACROFAN=Businesswire | | SNS

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BFA) (NYSE:BFB) reported financial results for its first quarter of fiscal 2020. For the first quarter, the company reported net sales1 of $766 million, flat both on a reported and underlying basis2 compared to the same prior-year period. In the quarter, reported operating income declined 6% to $248 million (-8% on an underlying basis) and diluted earnings per share declined 6% to $0.39.

Lawson Whiting, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Our first quarter results came in largely as anticipated considering the year-over-year drag from tariffs and timing of customer orders. Our takeaway trends3 remain healthy in most of our major markets globally, with particularly improving trends in the United States, our largest market. We believe we remain on track to deliver another year of solid underlying net sales and underlying operating income growth driven by the Jack Daniel’s family of brands. This includes the benefit we expect from the launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple beginning in October, as well as the continued strength of our portfolio of premium bourbons and tequilas.”

Whiting further added, “We continue to invest behind the momentum of our business, by not only absorbing much of the tariff costs, but thoughtfully re-allocating and reinvesting back into our brands and our people, including the recent announcement of establishing our own distribution platform in the United Kingdom. We believe that investing in momentum will position us well for the next generation of growth and continue to deliver superior returns for our shareholders.”

First Quarter Fiscal 2020 Highlights

  • Underlying and reported net sales were flat, with broad-based geographic3 and portfolio contribution being offset by the impact from tariffs and timing of customer orders:
    • The United States grew underlying net sales 4% (+6% reported), emerging markets grew underlying net sales 3% (+1% reported), and underlying net sales in our developed international markets declined 3% (-5% reported)
    • Underlying net sales for the Jack Daniel’s family of brands declined 1% (-1% reported), driven by a 4% underlying net sales decline (-3% reported) in Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
    • Premium bourbons grew underlying net sales 16% (+23% reported), including 15% underlying net sales growth from Woodford Reserve (+22% reported)
    • Herradura grew underlying net sales 22% (+22% reported) while el Jimador grew underlying net sales 10% (flat reported)
    • Declining gross margins, down 330 bps, were affected by tariffs and rising input costs
    • Underlying operating income declined 8% (-6% reported) and diluted earnings per share declined 6% to $0.39

First Quarter of Fiscal 2020 Results By Market - Growth Led by the United States

The United States grew underlying net sales by 4% (+6% reported) driven by sustained double-digit growth from our premium bourbons, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, and high single-digit underlying net sales growth in aggregate from our tequilas, Herradura and el Jimador. The Jack Daniel’s family of brands grew underlying net sales in the low-single digits reflecting improving trends for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey supported by incremental investment in broad reach media and promotional activities. The company’s consumer takeaway trends in the United States continue to improve, growing mid-single digits and largely in-line with total distilled spirits.

Underlying net sales in the company’s emerging markets grew 3% (+1% reported) on top of last year’s strong double-digit underlying net sales growth. This growth was suppressed by approximately three points due to tariff-related buy-ins in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Despite a difficult macroeconomic and political environment, Mexico grew underlying net sales 3% (+6% reported), fueled largely by pricing gains for Herradura and our super-premium cristalino tequila, Ultra. Brazil grew underlying net sales 7% (+14% reported) driven by expanding demand for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Russia experienced a 62% increase in underlying net sales (+34% reported) driven by strong consumer momentum and favorable comparisons to the same period last year where results were negatively affected by disruption resulting from the fiscal 2017 route-to-consumer change. Poland’s underlying net sales declined 14% (-15% reported) largely driven by tariff-related buy-ins in the same period last year and declines for Finlandia. China and India produced strong double-digit underlying net sales growth, led by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, while Turkey’s underlying net sales declined double digits due in part to fiscal 2019 first quarter tariff-related buy-ins.

Underlying net sales in the company’s developed international markets declined 3% (-5% reported). This growth was suppressed by approximately six points due to tariff-related buy-ins last year and net pricing reductions this year. Underlying net sales in the United Kingdom and Germany declined 14% (-21% reported) and 9% (-6% reported), respectively, influenced significantly by last year’s first quarter tariff-related buy-ins. France grew underlying net sales 6% (+7% reported) led by the launch of Jack Daniel’s RTDs3 and gains for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. Australia delivered modest underlying net sales growth of 1% (-2% reported) while Spain grew reported and underlying net sales in the high-single digits as a result of accelerated consumer momentum.

Travel Retail’s underlying net sales declined 14% (-15% reported) driven primarily by the timing of customer orders last year where this channel produced strong double-digit underlying net sales growth.

First Quarter of Fiscal 2020 Results By Brand

Jack Daniel’s family of brands underlying net sales declined 1% (-1% reported) globally as growth was impacted by approximately three percentage points due to tariff-related buy-ins and related net pricing reductions. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey experienced a 4% decline (-3% reported) in underlying net sales as tariff-related buy-ins and related net pricing reductions significantly affected our developed international markets. Jack Daniel’s RTD/RTP business delivered broad-based underlying net sales growth of 7% (+6% reported), Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey grew underlying net sales 5% (-3% reported), and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire increased underlying net sales 2% (-2% reported) fueled primarily by markets outside of the United States. Gentleman Jack grew underlying net sales 7% (+10% reported) driven by demand in both our domestic and international markets.

Brown-Forman’s portfolio of premium bourbon brands, including Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, delivered 16% (+23% reported) underlying net sales growth as category trends remain favorable and the company’s brands continue to gain share in the United States. Woodford Reserve, the leader in the super-premium bourbon category, grew underlying net sales 15% (+22% reported) and was the largest contributor to underlying net sales growth in the first quarter. Volumetric gains fueled Old Forester’s double-digit underlying net sales growth as the company continues to leverage recent investments such as its Louisville distillery and homeplace and the increased focus provided from our emerging brands team in the United States.

The company’s tequila brands sustained double-digit underlying net sales growth fueled by Herradura’s underlying net sales growth of 22% (+22% reported) and el Jimador’s underlying net sales growth of 10% (flat reported). Herradura’s underlying net sales growth was driven by pricing and higher volumes in Mexico and the United States. el Jimador’s underlying net sales growth was driven by higher volumes and pricing in the United States.

Finlandia vodka’s underlying net sales declined 5% (-9% reported). Positive volume growth in Russia was offset by underlying net sales declines in Poland driven by the competitive vodka category.

Other P&L Items

Company-wide price/mix increased one percentage point due to favorable growth from our higher- priced brands, offset by a one percentage point decline in volumes primarily related to tariffs. Underlying gross profit declined 5% (-5% reported) pulled down by tariffs and higher input costs. Reported gross margin declined 330bps in the first quarter to 64.9%, approximately 210bps reflective of tariff costs with the remainder essentially being driven by higher input costs, including agave and wood.

Underlying advertising spend decreased 4% (-6% reported) in the first quarter as increased media spend on Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey in the United States was more than offset by the timing of spend on our tequila brands and the rest of the Jack Daniel’s family of brands. Underlying SG&A decreased 1% (-2% reported) driven by lower compensation-related costs. Underlying operating income declined 8% (-6% reported).

Financial Stewardship

On July 25, 2019, Brown-Forman declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.166 per share on the Class A and Class B common stock, equating to an annualized cash dividend of $0.664 per share. The quarterly cash dividend is payable on October 1, 2019, to stockholders of record on September 6, 2019. Brown-Forman has paid regular quarterly cash dividends for 74 consecutive years and has increased the dividend for 35 consecutive years.

Fiscal Year 2020 Outlook

Growing uncertainty around the global economic and geopolitical environment combined with the competitive landscape in the developed world could impact our future results. Despite these factors, the company is reaffirming its prior full year fiscal 2020 guidance of:

  1. Underlying net sales growth of 5% to 7%.
  2. Underlying operating income growth of 3% to 5%.
  3. Diluted earnings per share of $1.75 to $1.85.

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,, 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 Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s RTDs, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, 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

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
  • 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.






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