Brown-Forman Reports Fiscal 2016 Results; Expects Continued Underlying Growth in Fiscal 2017

For the full year, reported net sales decreased 2% to $4,011 million (+5% on an underlying basis) as foreign exchange negatively impacted reported net sales growth by six points. Reported operating income grew 49% to $1,533 million, or 3% excluding the impact from the sale (+8% on an underlying basis), and diluted earnings per share increased 63% to $5.22, or 8% to $3.46 excluding the impact from the sale.

Paul Varga, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Fiscal 2016 was another successful year at Brown-Forman. We delivered solid underlying growth in sales and operating income, led by the Jack Daniel’s family of brands. We also made important changes to our portfolio of brands that we believe position us well for the long-term. Against a favorable backdrop of global interest in American whiskey, we invested capital to expand our capacity and we returned approximately $1.4 billion to our shareholders during the year. We believe that our strong free cash flow and capital efficiency positions us to deliver top-tier returns for our shareholders.”

The company’s brands delivered another solid year of growth in developed markets, which helped offset the economic slowdown in the emerging markets and Global Travel Retail. Underlying net sales grew 6% (3% reported) in the United States, 6% (-3% reported) in developed markets outside of the United States, and 4% (-10% reported) in the emerging markets.

Note: Reported net sales growth includes the impact from changes in foreign exchange and inventories; Totals may differ due to rounding.

Sales growth in the United States was powered by the Jack Daniel’s family of brands which grew underlying net sales by mid-single digits. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey continued its upward trajectory, growing to 5.2 million cases, and combined depletions for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Fire surpassed one million cases in the United States. In addition to growing Gentleman Jack’s underlying net sales by 10% in the United States (6% reported), the company sustained a high rate of growth for its premium bourbon brands, including 25% underlying net sales growth (29% reported) for Woodford Reserve and 48% for Old Forester (48% reported). Herradura and el Jimador tequilas grew underlying net sales by high-teens in the United States.

The developed markets outside of the United States experienced an acceleration in their underlying net sales trends compared to fiscal 2015, growing 6% (-3% reported). Western Europe’s underlying net sales jumped high-single digits, as the United Kingdom, Germany and France delivered strong results. New Zealand and Canada continued to grow at a healthy rate, Australia, Japan and Spain each returned to sales growth in the year, but Italy’s sales declined.

While the emerging markets have historically been a significant contributor to our incremental growth, we experienced a marked slowdown during fiscal 2016 as weakening economic conditions and currency devaluations dampened consumer’s purchasing power. Aggregate underlying net sales grew 4% (-10% reported) in the emerging markets. This year was a tale of two halves, with emerging markets growing underlying net sales by 8% in the first half and only 1% in the second half. The emerging markets displayed some signs of stabilization, with the fourth quarter’s rate of growth in-line with the third quarter’s growth. Turkey, Brazil, South Africa and Ukraine each delivered double-digit underlying net sales growth. Russia’s underlying net sales declined 17% and southeast Asia dropped double-digits, led by declines in Indonesia due to recent changes to industry regulation of import duties. Mexico grew underlying net sales 6%, while Poland grew only 1% due to a challenging competitive environment in vodka.

Travel Retail’s underlying net sales decreased 12% (-18% reported). Travel retail’s results were pressured by the decline in spending from travelers, as well as continued volatility in foreign exchange, which has also resulted in weaker consumer demand and a reduction in the historic price gap between travel retail and local economy.

The company’s underlying net sales growth was led by the Jack Daniel’s family, up 6% (-1% reported). Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey grew underlying net sales by 4% (-1% reported) despite the slowdown in the emerging markets and Global Travel Retail. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey grew underlying sales by 9% (0% reported), powered by strong growth outside of the United States. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire had a great first full year of results in the United States, contributing roughly one point to the company’s underlying growth. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Fire depleted a combined 1.9 million cases globally. In fiscal 2017, the company is rolling out Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire to several markets outside of the United States including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia. Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel surpassed 700,000 case depletions in the year, and grew aggregate underlying net sales by 6% (1% reported). Jack Daniel’s RTD/RTP business grew underlying net sales by 4% (-7% reported).

Brown-Forman’s portfolio of super and ultra-premium whiskey brands, including Woodford Reserve and Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Gentleman Jack, Sinatra Select, No. 27 Gold, and Collingwood, collectively grew underlying net sales by mid-teens. Old Forester’s underlying net sales grew 47% (48% reported), and the Woodford Reserve family of brands grew underlying net sales 28% (+29% reported).

Finlandia vodka experienced a 5% decline in underlying net sales (-16% reported), pulled down by weak results in Poland and Russia. The competitive landscape for premium vodka in Poland remains very challenging while results in Russia have worsened as the economic slowdown and ruble depreciation are negatively impacting consumption.

El Jimador grew underlying net sales by 5% (-5% reported). Strong growth in the United States was offset somewhat by the anticipated volume declines in Mexico associated with the company’s strategic repositioning of the brand at a higher price point through multi-year increases. New Mix’s underlying net sales increase of 23% (+2% reported) continued to benefit from distribution gains and new sizes. Herradura grew underlying net sales by 13% (0% reported) globally, driven by double-digit gains in the United States and Mexico.

In fiscal 2016, company-wide price/mix improvements contributed approximately four percentage points of underlying sales growth and helped deliver gross margin expansion of 10bps. Underlying A&P spend increased by 2% (-4% reported). Underlying SG&A increased by 2% (-1% reported), and the company is focused on containing SG&A growth, excluding potential route to market investments.

As of April 30, 2016, total debt was $1,501 million, up from $1,183 million as of April 30, 2015. The increase reflects the issuance of $500 million of 4.5% 30-year senior unsecured notes in June 2015. On January 15, 2016, the company repaid $250 million of 2.5% notes. On March 1, 2016, the company closed on the sale of Southern Comfort and Tuaca for $543 million. On June 1, 2016, the company closed on the acquisition of the GlenDronach, BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh single malt scotch brands for $408 million.

On May 26, 2016, Brown-Forman’s board declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.34 per share on its Class A and Class B common stock. The cash dividend is payable on July 1, 2016 to stockholders of record on June 6, 2016. Brown-Forman has paid regular quarterly cash dividends for 70 consecutive years and has increased the dividend for 32 consecutive years. On May 26, 2016, the Brown-Forman board also approved a two-for-one stock split for all shares of Class A and Class B common stock, to be paid in the form of a stock dividend. Implementation of the stock split is subject to approval of an increase in the number of outstanding share of Class A common stock at the company’s annual meeting of stockholders scheduled to be held on July 28, 2016.

In fiscal 2016, the company also repurchased a record $1.1 billion of shares, comprised of 11.4 million Class A and Class B shares at an average price of $97 per share. When combined with the $266 million of cash dividends paid, the company returned approximately $1.4 billion to shareholders during the year. As of April 30, 2016, the remaining share repurchase authorization totaled $889 million.

Significant uncertainty around the global economic environment and its potential impact on our business makes it difficult to predict future results. Assuming no further deterioration in the global economy in fiscal 2017, particularly in the emerging markets, the company anticipates:

Following is a table that reconciles reported results to the baseline earnings in fiscal 2016:

For more than 145 years, Brown-Forman Corporation has enriched the experience of life by responsibly building fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s & Cola, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Finlandia, Korbel, el Jimador, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist, Herradura, New Mix, Sonoma-Cutrer, Early Times, and Chambord. Brown-Forman’s brands are supported by nearly 4,600 employees and sold in approximately 160 countries worldwide.

This press release contains statements, estimates, and projections that are “forward-looking statements” as defined under U.S. federal securities laws. Words such as “aim,” “anticipate,” “aspire,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “envision,” “estimate,” “expect,” “expectation,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “project,” “pursue,” “see,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” and similar words identify forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date we make them. Except as required by law, we do not intend to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors (many beyond our control) that could cause our actual results to differ materially from our historical experience or from our current expectations or projections. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to:

For further information on these and other risks, please refer to the “Risk Factors” section of our annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC.

Shares (in thousands) used in the calculation of earnings per share

Shares (in thousands) used in the calculation of earnings per share

We use certain financial measures in this report that are not measures of financial performance under GAAP. These non-GAAP measures, which are defined below, should be viewed as supplements to (not substitutes for) our results of operations and other measures reported under GAAP. The non-GAAP measures we use in this report may not be defined and calculated by other companies in the same manner.

We present changes in certain income statement line-items that are adjusted to an “underlying” basis, which we believe assists in understanding both our performance from period to period on a consistent basis, and the trends of our business. Non-GAAP “underlying” measures include changes in (a) underlying net sales, (b) underlying cost of sales, (c) underlying excise taxes, (d) underlying gross profit, (e) underlying advertising expenses, (f) underlying selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses, and (g) underlying operating income. To calculate each of these measures, we adjust, as applicable, for (a) foreign currency exchange; (b) estimated net changes in distributor inventories; and (c) the impact of acquisition and divestiture activity. We explain these adjustments below.

Management uses “underlying” measures of performance to assist it in comparing and measuring our performance from period to period on a consistent basis, and in comparing our performance to that of our competitors. We also use underlying measures in connection with management incentive compensation calculations. Management also uses underlying measures in its planning and forecasting and in communications with the board of directors, stockholders, analysts, and investors concerning our financial performance. We have provided reconciliations of the non-GAAP measures adjusted to an “underlying” basis to their nearest GAAP measures in the tables below under “Results of Operations – Year-Over-Year Comparisons” and have consistently applied the adjustments within our reconciliations in arriving at each non-GAAP measure.

Note: Totals may differ due to rounding.