Brown-Forman quarterly profit rises on strong margins

Wed Dec 5, 2012 8:52am EST

(Reuters) - Brown-Forman Corp's (BFb.N) quarterly profit rose despite flat sales as it cut costs and raised prices, and the alcoholic beverage maker also raised its full-year earnings forecast.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based company increased prices for most of its products, including Jack Daniels whiskey, earlier this year.

Brown-Forman, which also makes Finlandia vodka said gross margin rose to 51.7 percent in the second quarter from 49.5 percent, a year earlier.

Cost of sales fell 10 percent to $252.2 million.

Net income rose to $173 million, or 80 cents per share, in the quarter ended October from $157.6 million, or 73 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected earnings of 78 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company, which was founded by George Garvin Brown in 1870, said it now expects to earn between $2.58 and $2.70 per share for fiscal 2013, up from its prior expectation of earnings between $2.40 and $2.67 per share.

Analysts were expecting the company to earn $2.66 per share.

Brown-Forman has been trying to expand geographically. It said in September that Japanese brewer Asahi Group Holdings Ltd (2502.T) will distribute its brands in Japan.

The company's shares, which have risen about 28 percent this year, closed at $68.74 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Arpita Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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