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Brown-Forman Reports Fiscal 2017 Results; Expects Stronger Trends to Continue in Fiscal 2018

Louisville, KY, June 7, 2017 – Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BFA, BFB) reported financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended April 30, 2017. For the fourth quarter, the company’s reported net sales1 declined 5% to $694 million (+4% on an underlying basis2). Reported operating income declined 71% in the fourth quarter to $212 million (+13% on an underlying basis). Diluted earnings per share decreased 71% to $0.37 compared to the prior-year period (-5% excluding acquisition and divestiture impact3).

For the full year, reported net sales decreased 3% to $2,994 million (+3% on an underlying basis) as foreign exchange, A&D activity and inventory changes negatively impacted reported net sales growth by six points. Reported operating income declined 35% to $989 million (+7% on an underlying basis), and diluted earnings per share decreased 34% to $1.71 (+5% excluding acquisition and divestiture impact3).

Paul Varga, the company’s Chief Executive Officer said, “Fiscal 2017 was another year of strong underlying growth and excellent progress in positioning Brown-Forman for continued gains in the years ahead. This year’s results translate into the tenth straight year of growth in underlying net sales and operating income, with fiscal 2017’s underlying operating income growth of 7% approximating the 10-year average of 8%.” Varga added, “Given the acceleration we experienced in the second half of the year, the investments we continue to make behind the business, and the expectation of improved contribution from innovation next year, we are forecasting another strong year in fiscal 2018, with mid-single digit underlying net sales growth and operating expense leverage driving 6-8% growth in underlying operating income.”

Fiscal 2017 Highlights

  • Underlying net sales increased 3%, and improved from 2% in the first half to 4% in the second half:
    • Developed markets grew underlying net sales 4% (-3% reported) and emerging markets also grew 4% (-7% reported) as second half trends in these markets improved to 8% (-1% reported)
    • The Jack Daniel’s family of brands grew underlying net sales 3% (flat reported)
      • Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire grew underlying net sales 4% and 14%, respectively (3% and 18% reported)
    • The company’s super- and ultra-premium whiskey brands4 experienced strong underlying net sales growth, including 19% from Woodford Reserve (+14% reported)
    • Herradura grew underlying net sales 14% (+9% reported), el Jimador 8% (flat reported) and New Mix RTDs 17% (+2% reported)
  • Underlying operating income increased 7%, helped by a 2% decline in underlying SG&A
  • Returned $835 million to shareholders in the year and $4.3 billion since fiscal 2013
  • Generated a 33% operating margin, an ROIC5 of 19% and a ten-year TSR6 of 14%, double the S&P 500

Fiscal 2017 Performance By Market – Balanced Growth and a Recovery in the Emerging Markets

The company delivered another solid year of growth in developed markets, while the second half results in the emerging markets improved significantly. Each of our top ten largest markets grew underlying net sales in the year. Underlying net sales grew 4% (-3% reported) in the United States, 4% (-3% reported) in developed markets outside of the United States, 4% (-7% reported) in the emerging markets, and 7% (3% reported) in Travel Retail.

United States48%(3)%4%

Brown-Forman Corporation – Top Ten Countries
Supplemental Information (Unaudited)
Twelve Months Ended April 30, 2017
Country % of Reported
Net Sales
% Growth in Reported
Net Sales
% Growth in Underlying
Net Sales
United Kingdom 7% (12)% 5%
Australia 5% (2)% 2%
Mexico 5% —% 15%
Germany 4% (1)% 6%
France 4% 5% 10%
Poland 2% 5% 9%
Japan 1% 30% 18%
Canada 1% (8)% 1%
Russia 1% (43)% 7%
Top Ten Total 79% (3)% 5%
Other Markets 21% (2)% (3)%
Total Worldwide 100% (3)% 3%


Note: Reported net sales growth excludes excise taxes but 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 broad-based gains across the Jack Daniel’s family of brands. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey continued to grow through a combination of volume gains and pricing. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey also grew sales while Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire was nearly flat, as strong growth in the on-premise offset challenging off-premise comparisons associated with the prior year’s launch. In addition to growing Gentleman Jack’s underlying net sales by mid-single digits in the United States, the company maintained solid double-digit growth for its bourbon brands including Woodford Reserve and Old Forester. The company’s tequila brands, Herradura and el Jimador, grew underlying net sales by double digits in the United States.

The developed markets outside of the United States delivered another year of solid results in fiscal 2017, with underlying net sales growth of 4% (-3% reported). Western Europe’s underlying net sales grew mid-single digits, as the United Kingdom, Germany and France delivered strong results. Large price increases in Japan helped underlying net sales jump 18%, while underlying net sales in Canada and Australia grew slightly.

The emerging markets experienced a significant improvement in the year, with second half underlying net sales growth of 8% (-1% reported) compared to the first half’s 1% decline (-13% reported). For the full year, underlying net sales grew in-line with the developed markets, up 4% (-7% reported). Growth was particularly strong in top markets such as Mexico and Poland. Turkey and Brazil both declined in the year as economic weakness weighed heavily on results, while Russia and India returned to growth and Ukraine delivered another year of double-digit gains.

Travel Retail’s underlying net sales increased 7% (+3% reported), primarily attributable to distribution gains for Woodford Reserve, improved business with the airlines, as well as strengthening trends in European and Russian travel.

The company’s non-branded business, primarily comprised of used barrel sales, experienced an 18% year-to-date decline in net sales excluding the impact from acquisition and divestiture activity (+11% reported). The reduction in net sales was due largely to declines in used barrel sales reflecting lower prices and volumes.

Fiscal 2017 Performance By Brand – Growth Led by Jack Daniel’s, Bourbons, and Tequilas

The company’s underlying net sales growth was led by the Jack Daniel’s family, up 3% (flat reported). Jack Daniel’s family of brands continued to grow globally, surpassing 16.1 million equivalent adjusted7 cases as we celebrated the brand’s 150th anniversary. This includes depleting 12.5 million cases of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. While depletions for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey were flat in the first half of the year, the second half grew 2%, helped by improving trends in the emerging markets. The family’s other brands, including Tennessee Honey, Gentleman Jack, and Tennessee Fire, to name a few, depleted 2.9 million cases, while RTDs had a very strong year, depleting 8.0 million cases (800,000 equivalent cases).

The company continues to grow and develop the Jack Daniel’s family of brands and believes that the opportunity for additional growth and share gains remains robust. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey grew underlying net sales by 3% (-1% reported) as sluggish trends early in the year steadily improved, including 5% underlying net sales growth in the fourth quarter (-3% reported). Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey grew underlying sales by 4% in its seventh year in the market (3% reported) and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire grew underlying net sales in the mid-teens, with nearly flat results in the United States offset by strong distribution gains in many markets outside of the United States. Gentleman Jack grew underlying net sales mid-single digits globally. Jack Daniel’s RTD/RTP business grew underlying net sales by 6% (3% reported), helped by innovation such as American Serve in Australia.

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 high-single digits. On top of significant price increases, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve continued to grow double-digits.

Finlandia vodka experienced a 1% decline in underlying net sales (-10% reported) as results in many markets continued to improve from the prior year. The competitive landscape for premium vodka in Poland and Russia remains very challenging.

El Jimador grew underlying net sales by 8% (flat reported), with double-digit gains in the United States and flat results in Mexico despite another year of price increases as the company repositions the brand at a higher price point. New Mix surpassed six million cases in the year and grew underlying net sales by 17% (+2% reported), helped by a strong economy and consumer demand for new sizes. Herradura grew underlying net sales by 14% (9% reported) as the Silver and Ultra expressions enjoy continued gains in the marketplace.

Chambord and Korbel grew underlying net sales by low-single digits, while Sonoma-Cutrer grew underlying net sales by mid-single digits. Early Times and Canadian Mist continued to experience declines as the competitive environment for mainstream brands has intensified.

Other P&L Items

In fiscal 2017, price/mix and volume contributed equally to underlying net sales growth. Underlying A&P spend increased by 2% during the year (-8% reported). Underlying SG&A decreased by 2% during the year (-3% reported). The company remains focused on tightly controlling SG&A to drive better efficiency and focus, but will continue to pursue growth opportunities such as our current route to market investments in Spain and start-up costs associated with the Old Forester and Slane distilleries and homeplaces.

Financial Stewardship

As of April 30, 2017, total debt was $2,149 million, up from $1,501 million as of April 30, 2016. The increase is primarily related to the issuance of two bonds in June of 2016, including €300M 1.2% 10-year notes and £300M 2.6% 12-year notes. On June 1, 2016, the company closed on the acquisition of the GlenDronach, BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh single malt scotch brands for aggregate consideration of $407 million.

On May 24, 2017, Brown-Forman’s board declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.1825 per share on its Class A and Class B common stock. The cash dividend is payable on July 3, 2017 to stockholders of record on June 5, 2017. Brown-Forman has paid regular quarterly cash dividends for 71 consecutive years and has increased the dividend for 33 consecutive years. In fiscal 2017, the company also repurchased a total of 11.9 million Class A and Class B shares for $561 million at an average price of $47 per share. When combined with the $274 million of cash dividends paid, the company returned $835 million to shareholders during the fiscal year and has returned $4.3 billion since fiscal 2013.

In fiscal 2017, the company delivered a top-tier operating margin of 33%, an ROIC of 19% and a ten year TSR that compounded at 14% per year, well ahead of the competitive set and double the TSR of the S&P 500 Index over the same period.

Fiscal Year 2018 Outlook

The global economy remains volatile, particularly in the emerging markets, and the competitive landscape has intensified in the developed world, making it difficult to predict future results. Assuming no deterioration in current trends, the company anticipates:
1. Underlying net sales growth of 4% to 5%, led by the Jack Daniel’s family of brands, our premium bourbon and tequila brands, and helped by new products such as the launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye and Slane Irish Whiskey, as well as seeding of our single malt scotch brands.
2. Underlying operating income growth of 6% to 8%.
3. Diluted earnings per share of $1.80 to $1.90, which includes a modest negative impact from a higher tax rate, foreign exchange headwinds and setting up owned distribution in Spain.

Furthermore, the company is targeting three year cost savings of $100 million (FY18-FY20) through better leveraging prior investments, including production capabilities, route to market initiatives, brand innovation, homeplace assets, and our people.

Conference Call Details

Brown-Forman will host a conference call to discuss the results at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) today. All interested parties in the United States are invited to join the conference call by dialing 888-624-9285 and asking for the Brown-Forman call. International callers should dial +1-706-679-3410. The company suggests that participants dial in ten minutes in advance of the 10:00 a.m. (EDT) 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, http://localhost/, through a link to “Investors/Events & Presentations.” A digital audio recording of the conference call will also be available on the website two hours after the conclusion of the conference call. The replay will be available for at least 30 days following the conference call.

For nearly 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 & Cola, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Finlandia, Korbel, el Jimador, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Canadian Mist, Herradura, New Mix, Sonoma-Cutrer, Early Times, Chambord, BenRiach, GlenDronach and Slane. Brown-Forman’s brands are supported by 4,700 employees and sold in more than 160 countries worldwide.

1 Percentage growth rates are compared to prior-year periods, unless otherwise noted.
2 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 gross profit, (c) underlying advertising expenses, (d) underlying selling, general and administrative expenses and (e) underlying operating income. A reconciliation of these non-GAAP measures for the three-month and twelve-month periods ended April 30, 2017, to the most closely comparable GAAP measure, and the reasons why management believes these adjustments to be useful, are included in Schedule A and B in this press release.
3 We present a reconciliation of diluted EPS (GAAP) to “Adjusted diluted EPS (Non-GAAP)” for the three-month and twelve-month periods ended April 30, 2017, and the reason why management believes this measure to be useful, in Schedule C in this press release.
4 Super/Ultra-premium whiskey brands include the Woodford Reserve family, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Gentleman Jack, Sinatra Select, No. 27 Gold, and Collingwood.
5 ROIC: Return on invested capital is the sum of net income and after-tax interest expense, divided by average invested capital (equals assets less liabilities, excluding interest-bearing debt).
6 TSR: Total Shareholder Return is shown as a compound annual growth rate assuming dividends reinvested, and is measured over the ten-year period ending April 30, 2017.
7 Equivalent conversion depletions represent the conversion of ready-to-drink (RTD) and ready-to-pour (RTP) brands to a similar drinks equivalent as the parent brand for various trademark families. RTD volumes are divided by 10, while RTP volumes are divided by 5.

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:

  • Unfavorable global or regional economic conditions, and related 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
  • 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; compliance with local trade practices and other regulations, including anti-corruption laws; terrorism; and health pandemics
  • Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, particularly a stronger U.S. dollar
  • Changes in laws, regulations, or 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, capital gains) or changes in related reserves, changes in tax rules (for example, LIFO, foreign income deferral, U.S. manufacturing and other deductions) or accounting standards, and the unpredictability and suddenness with which they can occur
  • 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 smaller distilleries or local producers, or away from brown spirits, our premium products, or spirits generally, and our ability to anticipate or react to them; bar, restaurant, travel or other on-premise declines; shifts in demographic trends; unfavorable consumer reaction to new products, line extensions, package changes, product reformulations, or other product innovation
  • Decline in the social acceptability of beverage alcohol products 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
  • Route-to-consumer changes that affect the timing of our sales, temporarily disrupt the marketing or sale of our products, or result in higher implementation-related or fixed costs
  • Inventory fluctuations in our products by distributors, wholesalers, or retailers
  • Competitors’ 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
  • Risks associated with acquisitions, dispositions, business partnerships or investments – such as acquisition integration, or termination difficulties or costs, or impairment in recorded value
  • Inadequate protection of our intellectual property rights
  • Product recalls or other product liability claims; product counterfeiting, tampering, contamination, or product quality issues
  • Significant legal disputes and proceedings; government investigations (particularly of industry or company business, trade or marketing practices)
  • Failure or breach of key information technology systems
  • Negative publicity related to our company, brands, marketing, personnel, 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

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.

Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information:
This press release includes measures not derived in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), including return on invested capital, underlying net sales, underlying gross profit, underlying advertising expense, underlying SG&A, and underlying operating income. These measures should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for any measure derived in accordance with GAAP, and also may be inconsistent with similar measures presented by other companies. Reconciliations of the underlying measures to the most closely comparable GAAP measures, and reasons for the company’s use of these measures, are presented on Schedules A and B attached hereto.