Beam Inc. reports lower profits, sales — except for bourbon

jpatton1@herald-leader.comOctober 31, 2013 

Beam Inc., the Deerfield, Ill., based parent of Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbons, reported lower sales and earnings Thursday for the third quarter. Profit for the quarter fell by 12 percent, the company reported.

Net sales for the quarter were down 4.5 percent compared with the same quarter in 2012, due to inventory reductions by distributors in the United States and Australia, combined with challenges in India.

Net income was $84.8 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with $96.2 million, or 60 cents a share, in the same quarter of 2012.

For the first nine months of the year, sales are up 3.3 percent. Income is slightly lower, at $272.2 million, or $1.67 a share, compared to $274.3 million, or $1.71 a share.

Bourbon — and most other brown spirits — continued to buck the softening sales trends. For the quarter, sales of Jim Beam rose 3 percent, Maker's Mark rose 17 percent, Knob Creek rose 15 percent, and Basil Hayden's rose 34 percent.

In a conference call with stock market analysts and investors Thursday morning, Beam president and CEO Matt Shattock highlighted bourbon, which he said is seeing its third year in a row of double-digit growth.

Flavored line extensions such as the Red Stag expressions, and Jim Beam Honey and Maple, have proven popular and have driven tremendous growth in North America in Europe, he said.

Globally, flavored whiskies have driving 10 percent of the growth of Jim Beam volume, Shattock said.

Based on the surging sales, Shattock said Beam plans to increase prices again on its bourbons before the end of the year.

Skinnygirl, Beam's line of lower-calorie cocktails, continued to struggle, with sales down 29 percent from the previous quarter despite the introduction of Skinnygirl Prosecco sparkling wine. Shattock said the brand, which Beam bought from reality TV star Bethenny Frankel in 2011, has a loyal following and that numbers should improve going into the fourth quarter.

Shattock reiterated the prediction of high single-digit growth for the full year.

"Despite our lower third-quarter results, we continue to anticipate delivering good growth for the full year at the top line and even stronger growth at the bottom line," Shattock said in a news release. "We believe the fundamentals of our business remain strong — particularly our leadership of the bourbon category, our strong position in the U.S. and global routes to market, and our success in driving growth through innovation. These strengths put us in a good position to drive sustained out-performance over the long term."

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

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