Brown-Forman Corporation: An Earnings Preview

Spirits maker Brown-Forman (NYSE: BF-B  ) will report earnings on Wednesday. Here's what you need to watch for in the company's fiscal year 2014 earnings release.

Earnings and sales results
The first issue that needs to be addressed is whether the liquor maker met expectations. For the fiscal year 2014, Brown-Forman anticipates high-single digit sales growth and earnings to come in near $3 per share. Brown-Forman's fiscal third-quarter organic net sales grew 5% to $1.1 billion, while profits jumped by 14% to $0.82 per share. Analysts expected sales of $1.1 billion and earnings of $0.76 a share. Wall Street has loved this spirits maker's stock. It's skyrocketed more than 22% so far this year, compared to the S&P 500's 4% return. 

Whiskey will likely spike sales
With the surging popularity in whiskey, Brown-Forman is doubling down on brown liquor. So far, its bets are paying off. For the first three quarters of fiscal 2014, Brown-Forman enjoyed a 10% jump in Jack Daniel's trademark brand. Meanwhile, its innovative Tennessee Honey grew lip-licking double digits. Vying for a piece of the growing flavored brown spirits market, Brown-Forman's Tennessee Honey grew net sales 99% globally last year! Yet that still represents just 7% of Jack Daniel's sales. The popular Jack Daniel's brand, which has achieved a spot on the Interbrand Best Global Brands list every year since its 2000 inception, jumped 7% in brand value last year. Brown-Forman's super-premium whiskey brands will also likely spike growth. As of the first nine months of Brown-Forman's fiscal 2014, sales of premium whiskey brands grew 16%, including a mouthwatering 27% jump from Woodford Reserve. During Wednesday's earnings announcement, I'll be watching to see what type of growth the company achieved from its whiskey portfolio for the fiscal year.

Recipe for growth
Premium bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sales drove U.S. spirits exports to record-setting highs in 2013, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Louisville-based Brown-Forman knows this, and is hanging its future success on the surging popularity of brown liquor in important emerging markets. In fact, its Jack Daniel's enjoyed 32% growth in Latin America in 2012. Brown-Forman recently opened a new whiskey barrel-making facility in order to meet growing demand for its Jack Daniel's, which the company produced more than 11 million cases of last year.

Foolish takeaway
The spirits maker's commitment to leverage its great brands and successfully increase its presence in emerging markets has resulted in strong quarterly and fiscal year-to-date results. When Brown-Forman reports results on Wednesday, I'll be looking to see how the liquor maker closed out its fiscal year.

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