Brown-Forman data could signal trends

LOUISVILLE — Analysts will look for signs of early sales trends during the crucial holiday period when Brown-Forman Corp., the maker of Woodford Reserve bourbon, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey and other liquor brands, reports its second-quarter results Thursday.

What to watch for: The holidays offer the opportunity for higher sales for companies supplying spirits. Analysts will look for comments by Brown-Forman executives on early sales this holiday season that could bolster future earnings.

The recession hurt out-on-the-town drinking at bars and restaurants. In reporting first-quarter results in late August, Brown-Forman executives said they saw improvement in liquor consumption at U.S. bars and restaurants, but chief executive Paul Varga conceded, "It's not roaring back." A continued upswing could be a sign that U.S. consumers are going out and splurging more.

Why it matters: Brown-Forman is one of the largest American-owned spirits companies. An upswing in the spirits trade at bars and restaurants would be an indication that U.S. consumers are in a spending mood, as would strong holiday sales.

What's expected: Analysts polled by FactSet expect Brown-Forman to earn $1.09 per Class B share on revenue of $957.4 million for the second quarter.

Last year's second quarter: Brown-Forman reported net income of $154 million, or $1.05 per share, on revenue of $905.7 million.