Sweeping the cobwebs from a previous fiscal forecast, Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF-B) is telling shareholders that it sees a clearer, brighter picture for the distilled spirits business.

Having previously predicted uncertain fiscal-year EPS results in the $2.60 to $3.00 range, the maker of Jack Daniel's whiskey and Finlandia vodka provided a steadier prediction on Tuesday.

Excluding one-time events, the forecast for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2010 is now in an EPS range of $2.95 to $3.15.

The company's second-quarter profit -- from August through October -- rose, even as revenue fell. On a GAAP basis, Brown-Forman earned $0.99 per share, up 5% from the year-ago quarter, while net sales of $892.9 million were off by 4%.

However, Brown-Forman echoed a warning issued by its peers that consumer behavior hasn't emerged from a recession-induced hangover. Like other sin stocks such as Altria (NYSE:MO) and Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM), which rely heavily on the power of Marlboro and other famous brands, Brown-Forman has seen consumers trade down from its premium-priced marques. Moreover, the company is still affected by "soft" results from restaurant and bar sales.

A leading indicator?
Thanks to its unusual fiscal year, Brown-Forman may serve as a signal for how fast the alcohol business may recover. When its largest competitor Diageo (NYSE:DEO) reported results for the fiscal year that ended June 30, it said it was uncertain about the "sustainability and pace" of an economic recovery. Diageo predicted low-single digit growth in operating earnings for its current fiscal year.

Although Brown-Forman enjoyed a 15% gain in operating earnings for the first half of its current fiscal year, it expects a gain for the year in the low to mid-single digits, meaning that expectations for the rest of the year are substantially more dour than the growth thus far. During the second half, marketing and advertising expenses will be higher, and the company won't be doing the same amount of cost-cutting as it did in the first half.

Many alcoholic beverage companies -- including Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD and Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) -- have resorted to cost-cutting and/or price-raising to offset reduced-volume sales of their products.

For investors in Brown-Forman and in other alcoholic beverage companies, the major issue is how consumers will celebrate the alleged end of the recession. Trading down and drinking at home won't be good for share prices or morale.

For more sinful goodness:

Fool contributor Robert Steyer doesn't own shares of any companies cited in this story. Diageo is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.