Beam Inc., the parent of Kentucky bourbon brands Jim Beam and Maker's Mark, reported that net sales for 2013 rose 4 percent to a record $2.55 billion.
Adjusted for foreign exchange and acquisitions and divestitures, sales were up 2 percent on a comparable basis.
For the fourth quarter, Beam, based in Deerfield, Ill., reported net sales up 4 percent, and up 5 percent on a comparable basis, with 6 percent quarterly sales growth in North America, 9 percent sales growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and a decrease of 5 percent in the Asia Pacific region and South America.
With the pending $16 billion sale of the company to Japan-based Suntory Holdings, Beam did not release earnings targets for 2014 and did not hold a conference call on the results.
In a news release about the earnings, Beam attributed the gains to "strong demand for the company's premium whiskey and tequila brands, successful new-product innovations, and an approximate 1-point benefit from a return to growth in India."
Overall, Beam said, sales in North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, or EMEA, out-performed expectations, offsetting lower sales in the Asia Pacific and South American markets, or APSA. For 2013, net sales in North America were up 5 percent and in EMEA markets were up 6 percent, while the APSA markets were down 9 percent, affected by lower sales in Australia and challenging year-over-year comparisons to India.
New products and higher prices helped drive up profits, according to the news release.
For 2013, Beam reported that comparable net sales of top-seller Jim Beam rose 3 percent, while premium bourbons soared: Maker's Mark rose 17 percent; Knob Creek was up 14 percent; and Basil Hayden's leaped 29 percent. Most other whiskeys also rose: Laphroaig Scotch was up 21 percent, Canadian Club was up 10 percent, and Kilbeggan Irish whiskey was up 2 percent. Only Teacher's Scotch slipped 7 percent.
Tequilas also performed well, with Sauza up 3 percent and Hornitos up 12 percent.
Skinnygirl cocktails remained one of the few lackluster performers, down 26 percent from 2012.
"Beam closed a strong year with a better-than-expected quarter that benefited from accelerated growth for premium brands and cost containment," said Matt Shattock, president and CEO of Beam. "For the full year, we delivered excellent performance in premium whiskey — led by bourbon, Canadian, single-malt Scotch and Irish — as well as in tequila."
In January, Beam announced that Suntory Holdings is buying the company for $83.50 per outstanding share, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.
No date has been set for shareholders to vote, but Shattock said the proposed transaction remains on track to close in the second quarter of 2014. Beam was spun off from Fortune Brands in 2011.
On Wednesday morning, Beam reported year-end earnings from continuing operations of $365.5 million, down 9.4 percent from $403.4 million in 2012. Per diluted share, Beam reported yearly earnings of $2.24, down 10.8 percent from $2.51 in 2012.
Before charges for early debt extinguishment, yearly earnings were $2.63, up 10 percent and beating the company's 2013 target of high single-digit growth.
For the fourth quarter, Beam reported earnings from continuing operations of $91.6 million, down 27.8 percent from $126.8 million in the same quarter of 2012. Per diluted share, earnings from continuing operations were 56 cents, down 29.1 percent from 79 cents in 2012.
Before the fourth-quarter charges, earnings were up 15 percent to 77 cents per share, beating the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of 72 cents.
Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.