Louisville, KY – Brown‑Forman Corporation (NYSE: BFA, BFB) reported financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended April 30, 2021. For the fourth quarter, the company’s reported net sales of $812 million increased 14%1 (+19% on an underlying basis2) compared to the same prior-year period. In the quarter, reported operating income decreased 10% to $168 million (+7% on an underlying basis) and diluted earnings per share declined 6% to $0.25.
For fiscal year 2021, the company’s reported net sales of $3.5 billion grew 3% (+6% on an underlying basis) compared to the same prior-year period. Reported operating income increased 7% to $1.2 billion (+4% on an underlying basis) and diluted earnings per share grew 9% to $1.88.
Brown‑Forman’s President and Chief Executive Officer Lawson Whiting stated, “Brown‑Forman’s performance in fiscal 2021 demonstrates the resilience of our strategy and our people, and the strength of our portfolio and our brands. In an unprecedented and complex environment, we delivered underlying net sales growth consistent with our long-term expectations. I am proud of this performance, and the work we did throughout the year to advance our commitments to environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and community outreach. We place great care and focus on being strong stewards of our culture, our brands, and our communities, and it is evident in this fiscal year’s results.”
Fiscal 2021 Highlights
- Underlying net sales grew 6% (+3% reported)
- Growth across each of the three major International Monetary Fund (IMF) geographic clusters
- Jack Daniel’s family of brands underlying net sales grew 4% (+1% reported)
- Premium bourbons maintained double-digit underlying net sales growth
- The tequila portfolio grew underlying net sales 14% (+9% reported)
- Sustained investment behind the brand portfolio with underlying advertising increasing 2% (+4% reported)
- Continued to reshape the portfolio through the sale of Early Times, Canadian Mist, and Collingwood brands and the acquisition of Part Time Rangers ready-to-drinks
- Strong free cash flow2 generation of $755 million
- Industry-leading return on invested capital2 of nearly 20%
Fiscal 2021 Brand Results
Jack Daniel’s family of brands underlying net sales growth was driven primarily by Jack Daniel’s RTDs3, the international launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, and volume-driven growth from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Gentleman Jack. These gains were partially offset by a reduction in Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey’s underlying net sales.
- Fiscal 2021 Milestones:
- Jack Daniel’s RTDs depleted over 12 million 9L cases3
- Jack Daniel’s flavors depleted over 3 million 9L cases
- Gentleman Jack depleted over 800 thousand 9L cases
Premium bourbons grew underlying net sales with both Woodford Reserve and Old Forester maintaining strong double-digit growth. Once again Woodford Reserve was named a “Hot Brand3” by Impact Magazine.
The tequila portfolio’s underlying net sales growth was led by double-digit underlying net sales growth for el Jimador and Herradura in the United States coupled with strong volume-driven increases from New Mix in Mexico. These gains were partially offset by declines for Herradura and el Jimador in Mexico.
Fiscal 2021 Market Results
Strong underlying net sales growth from our largest market, the United States3, was driven primarily by our premium bourbons, Jack Daniel’s RTDs, and higher volumes and prices for our tequilas, Herradura and el Jimador.
Developed international3 markets delivered double-digit underlying net sales growth driven by strong growth in Australia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, partially offset by declines in the on-premise focused markets and markets reliant on tourism, such as Spain and Czechia.
Emerging markets3 grew underlying net sales in the mid-single digits propelled by volume gains in Brazil, Mexico, China, and Poland. These gains were partially offset by declines in tourism and trading down to lower-priced brands in some markets.
Underlying net sales in Travel Retail3 were down reflecting the significant impact COVID-19 travel bans and restrictions had on the channel.
Fiscal 2021 Other P&L Items
Volumes grew 12% fueled by RTDs and Jack Daniel’s flavors, while company-wide price/mix had a 6% unfavorable impact reflecting the portfolio mix shift toward lower-priced brands (Jack Daniel’s RTDs and New Mix) and the unfavorable channel mix shift (primarily for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey) from the on-premise channel related to COVID-19 restrictions.
Underlying gross profit increased 3% (-2% reported), while reported gross margin contracted 270 basis points to 60.5% driven by higher input costs, lower fixed cost absorption, and the shift to lower-priced brands noted above.
The company’s sustained investment in underlying advertising increased 2% (+4% reported) with a significant acceleration in the second half of the fiscal year behind Jack Daniel’s “Make It Count” campaign. Underlying selling, general and administrative expenses were flat (+4% reported) as the company maintained tight management of discretionary spend.
Underlying operating income increased 4% (+7% reported), while diluted earnings per share increased 9% to $1.88, including an estimated $0.20 per share benefit from the gain on the sale of Early Times, Canadian Mist, and Collingwood brands.
On May 27, 2021, Brown‑Forman declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.1795 per share on the Class A and Class B common stock. The quarterly cash dividend is payable on July 1, 2021 to stockholders of record on June 8, 2021. Brown‑Forman has paid regular quarterly cash dividends for 77 consecutive years and has increased the regular dividend for 37 consecutive years.
In addition, the company grew free cash flow by $144 million to $755 million for the fiscal year and announced a $20 million contribution to the Brown‑Forman Foundation.
Fiscal 2022 Outlook
“We are optimistic as we look ahead, as we expect the operating environment to continue to improve” noted Jane Morreau, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Morreau added, “We remain confident in the collective strength of our markets and should benefit from the re-opening of the on-premise channel and increase in tourism. Additionally, our portfolio remains well positioned to capitalize on the continuing spirits premiumization trend. For fiscal 2022, we anticipate mid-single digit growth in underlying net sales and operating income.”
Conference Call Details
Brown‑Forman will host a conference call to discuss these results at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) today. All interested parties in the United States are invited to join the conference call by dialing 833-962-1472 and asking for the Brown‑Forman call. International callers should dial +1-442-268-1255. The company suggests that participants dial in ten minutes in advance of the 10:00 a.m. (EST) start of the conference call. A live audio broadcast of the conference call, and the accompanying presentation slides, will also be available via Brown‑Forman’s Internet website, https://www.brown-forman.com/, through a link to “Investors/Events & Presentations.” A digital audio recording of the conference call and the presentation slides will also be posted on the website and will be available for at least 30 days following the conference call.
For over 150 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 Tennessee RTDs, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Finlandia, Korbel, el Jimador, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Coopers’ Craft, Herradura, New Mix, Sonoma‑Cutrer, Chambord, Benriach, GlenDronach, Glenglassaugh, Slane, and Fords Gin. Brown‑Forman’s brands are supported by approximately 4,700 employees and sold in more than 170 countries worldwide. For more information about the company, please visit https://www.brown-forman.com/.
Important Information on Forward-Looking Statements:
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,” “can,” “continue,” “could,” “envision,” “estimate,” “expect,” “expectation,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “project,” “pursue,” “see,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” “would,” and similar words indicate 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:
- Impact of health epidemics and pandemics, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting negative economic impact and related governmental actions
- Risks associated with being a U.S.-based company with global operations, including commercial, political, and financial risks; local labor policies and conditions; protectionist trade policies, or economic or trade sanctions, including additional retaliatory tariffs on American spirits and the effectiveness of our actions to mitigate the negative impact on our margins, sales, and distributors; compliance with local trade practices and other regulations; terrorism; and health pandemics
- Failure to comply with anti-corruption laws, trade sanctions and restrictions, or similar laws or regulations
- Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, particularly a stronger U.S. dollar
- Changes in laws, regulatory measures, or governmental policies – especially those that affect the production, importation, marketing, labeling, pricing, distribution, sale, or consumption of our beverage alcohol products
- Tax rate changes (including excise, sales, VAT, tariffs, duties, corporate, individual income, dividends, or capital gains) or changes in related reserves, changes in tax rules or accounting standards, and the unpredictability and suddenness with which they can occur
- Unfavorable global or regional economic conditions, particularly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and related economic slowdowns or recessions, low consumer confidence, high unemployment, weak credit or capital markets, budget deficits, burdensome government debt, austerity measures, higher interest rates, higher taxes, political instability, higher inflation, deflation, lower returns on pension assets, or lower discount rates for pension obligations
- Dependence upon the continued growth of the Jack Daniel’s family of brands
- Changes in consumer preferences, consumption, or purchase patterns – particularly away from larger producers in favor of small distilleries or local producers, or away from brown spirits, our premium products, or spirits generally, and our ability to anticipate or react to them; legalization of marijuana use on a more widespread basis; shifts in consumer purchase practices from traditional to e-commerce retailers; bar, restaurant, travel, or other on-premise declines; shifts in demographic or health and wellness trends; or unfavorable consumer reaction to new products, line extensions, package changes, product reformulations, or other product innovation
- Decline in the social acceptability of beverage alcohol in significant markets
- Production facility, aging warehouse, or supply chain disruption
- Imprecision in supply/demand forecasting
- Higher costs, lower quality, or unavailability of energy, water, raw materials, product ingredients, labor, or finished goods
- Significant additional labeling or warning requirements or limitations on availability of our beverage alcohol products
- Competitors’ and retailers’ consolidation or other competitive activities, such as pricing actions (including price reductions, promotions, discounting, couponing, or free goods), marketing, category expansion, product introductions, or entry or expansion in our geographic markets or distribution networks
- Route-to-consumer changes that affect the timing of our sales, temporarily disrupt the marketing or sale of our products, or result in higher fixed costs
- Inventory fluctuations in our products by distributors, wholesalers, or retailers
- Risks associated with acquisitions, dispositions, business partnerships, or investments – such as acquisition integration, termination difficulties or costs, or impairment in recorded value
- Counterfeiting and inadequate protection of our intellectual property rights
- Product recalls or other product liability claims, product tampering, contamination, or quality issues
- Significant legal disputes and proceedings, or government investigations
- Cyber breach or failure or corruption of key information technology systems, or failure to comply with personal data protection laws
- Negative publicity related to our company, products, brands, marketing, executive leadership, employees, board of directors, family stockholders, operations, business performance, or prospects
- Failure to attract or retain key executive or employee talent
- Our status as a family “controlled company” under New York Stock Exchange rules, and our dual-class share structure
For further information on these and other risks, please refer to our public filings, including the “Risk Factors” section of our annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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