It's been a busy week for Brown-Forman
The $876 million acquisition includes the purchase of the assets of Mexican tequila maker Casa Herradura and its related $200 million in 2005 sales. Further details can be found here, but in a nutshell, Brown-Forman is acquiring two well-known tequila brands, Herradura and El Jimador. Tequila is one of the faster-growing spirit categories in the U.S. right now, with long-term trends in its favor as well.
Just yesterday, Brown-Forman announced that it wants to sell its Hartmann luggage and leather goods subsidiary. After selling the Lennox china business last year, Hartmann is Brown-Forman's sole remaining business that is not liquor-related; once it is sold, Brown-Forman will be all about booze. The press release announcing the potential sale stated that SunTrust Robinson Humphrey of Atlanta has been hired to help sell the business. Hartmann reported $32 million in sales last year, accounting for less than 2% of the $2.4 billion reported overall at Brown-Forman.
To top it off, Brown-Forman reported today that sales for its first quarter jumped 17%, and gross profit advanced 16%. Reported diluted earnings grew only 6%, but excluding a one-time benefit in last year's quarter, the company reported that earnings grew 11%. It also reported strength across the board as "nearly every brand in the company's portfolio recorded gross profit gains in the quarter, also contributing to earnings improvement."
Jack Daniel's global depletion rates grew in the mid-single digits during the quarter, with particular strength overseas in Europe and Asia. In contrast, Southern Comfort grew volumes about 5% in the U.S. but struggled internationally, while Finlandia Vodka was denoted as strong, especially in Poland, its largest market. According to the company, depletions represent shipments from wholesale distributors to retail customers; they're a common industry measure that serves as a proxy for consumer demand.
Finally, management is projecting full-year earnings of $3.10-$3.30; this excludes expected dilution of $0.08-$0.12 per share from a tequila hangover resulting from the Herradura acquisition. But as I detailed in an overview of Brown-Forman's fiscal 2006 earnings, the company tends to take a very long-term perspective in developing and promoting its liquor brands, looking 10 to 20 years instead of worrying about quarterly fluctuations in results.
Based on current guidance for fiscal 2007, Brown-Forman is trading at a P/E of almost 25. I have been hoping that a pullback in the share price would provide a better entry point for this stock, but right now, the company appears to be firing on all cylinders, with no slowdown in sight. That's a great thing for current shareholders, and it's further supported by consumers' current shift from beer toward higher-end alcoholic beverages. That hurts Anheuser-Busch
Another round of spirited Foolishness:
Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of Diageo but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to contact him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.