What's the best way to describe Fortune Brands
If someone mentions the word "screwdriver," I don't know whether I should check a liquor store or the hardware aisle.
Given that disclaimer, I'll note that Fortune is emulating pure-play peers in the alcoholic beverage industry, such as Constellation Brands
Fortune said Friday that it earned $0.70 per share for the April-June quarter, excluding one-time events, or $0.06 better than the consensus of Wall Street analysts.
On a reported basis for the second quarter, however, net income of $0.66 per share was well below the $0.88 for the year-ago quarter. Net sales of $1.74 billion were a 17% drop.
Trying to figure it out
Fortune said earnings and revenue declined at a "more moderate pace" from the preceding quarter, adding that the spirits business "tempered" the double-digit sales declines for the golf equipment and home/hardware businesses.
Each unit performed "in line" with quarterly expectations, the company said. Although the home/hardware business returned to profitability in the quarter, the spirits unit provided most of Fortune's operating income.
The market offers many corporate combinations for Wall Street to digest, but Fortune -- designated a Frankenstein conglomerate by Foolish colleague Mike Pienciak -- is difficult to evaluate.
Do you compare it to alcoholic beverage producers such as Diageo
One illustration of this difficulty is Fortune's recent guidance for the fiscal year -- a wide EPS range of $2.00 to $2.30. At least that's tighter than the $2.00 to $2.50 prediction offered a few months ago.
Investors who bought Fortune 30 years ago and sold it in 2005 made a fortune. Even if they hold the stock today, it still outshines the S&P 500 index by a healthy margin.
For less patient investors, Fortune doesn't compare so well to Diageo, Brown-Forman, and Constellation Brands. Over five years, it trails each one. Over 12 months, it trails Diageo and Brown-Forman.
If you're buying Fortune for itself, then maybe you can take comfort that alcoholic beverages have moderated the recession-induced shellacking of the other divisions. But if you're researching wine and spirits, or even a brewer like Molson Coors
For further Foolishness:
- Read Mike Piencak's bearish take on Fortune.
- This Brand Won't Make You a Fortune
- Is Fortune Brands' Luck Finally Turning?
- The Best Stocks to Buy in This Market
Fool contributor Robert Steyer doesn't own shares of companies mentioned in this article.