Business Notes


Brown-Forman quarterly earnings better than expected

Brown-Forman Corp. on Tuesday reported better-than-expected earnings in its third quarter as the liquor company squeezed advertising and other expenses, offsetting mixed sales results for its brands. The maker of the Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Southern Comfort, Woodford Reserve and Finlandia Vodka brands, however, lowered its full-year earnings outlook to between $2.70 and $2.90 a share, down from a December forecast of $3 to $3.20, citing the effect of the stronger U.S. dollar and global inventory reductions of its brands. The company posted earnings per share of $2.84 for the prior year.

Humana CEO's compensation falls 19%

Humana Inc. chief executive Michael B. McCallister saw his total compensation fall 19 percent last year to $5.2 million, the majority of it in the form of stock options that are now worthless because the health insurer's stock price has fallen. Louisville-based Humana raised McCallister's salary more than 4 percent to $1.02 million last year. But the insurer did not award cash bonuses to top executives because Humana missed an annual earnings-per-share goal of $5.45, according to a proxy statement filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The insurer recorded a profit of $647.2 million, or $3.83 a share, a 22 percent drop from $833.7 million in 2007.

Stantec part of flood-risk map project

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded a five-year, $600 million contract to a four-company joint venture that includes Stantec, a consulting firm with 130 employees in Lexington. The contract is for FEMA's huge flood risk mapping and planning program, known as Risk MAP, the company said. Stantec holds a 15 percent stake in the joint venture called Strategic Alliance for Risk Reduction, or STARR. The joint venture will provide production and technical services for Risk MAP. Stantec shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange as STN.


Citigroup profitable first 2 months of '09

The news from Citigroup Inc. was surprising and, for a change, upbeat. The struggling bank was profitable through the first two months of the year, chief executive Vikram Pandit told employees in a letter. And it's having its best quarter since late summer 2007 — the last time it posted a profit. The memo helped power Wall Street's best day of 2009 as Citigroup shares soared 38 percent and sent other financial company stocks barreling higher. But investors' fears are far from quelled about Citi and the broader banking business. The company's stock is still trading near the all-time low of 97 cents a share, hit last week, and Bank of America Corp., also seen as having been in a precarious position, is still below $5 a share.

More job cuts considered likely at Delta

Facing a continuing revenue slump amid the worsening global economic downturn, Delta Air Lines Inc., the world's biggest airline operator, said Tuesday it will cut international capacity by an additional 10 percent starting in September, a move that will probably mean more job cuts. In a memo to the Atlanta-based airline's employees, executives said the capacity cuts are in addition to Delta's announcement in December that it will cut systemwide capacity in 2009 by 6 percent to 8 percent. Roughly 2,100 employees have offered to take severance payouts as part of job cuts associated with the earlier capacity announcement. Delta said Tuesday those employees will be leaving the company over the next few months.

Honda hybrid to sell for under $20,000

Honda said its new Insight hybrid will be priced under $20,000 when it goes on sale in the United States later this month, as the No. 2 Japanese automaker takes aim at eco-friendly bargain shoppers. Honda said the 2010 Insight will arrive at U.S. showrooms starting March 24 with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $19,800 for the base LX model.

Compiled from Staff, wire reports