Jack Daniel's continued to bring the heat for Brown-Forman in the first quarter.
Sales were up 7 percent but gains were overshadowed by the impact of unfavorable foreign exchange rates, leading to an overall drop of 2 percent, to $900 million, compared to the previous year, Brown-Forman reported Wednesday morning.
CEO Paul Varga said in a statement that the Louisville-based company is "off to a strong start in fiscal 2016. Despite a volatile global economy, adverse foreign exchange, and increasing competitive intensity, our growth in underlying sales and operating income were impressive, and continued to compare quite favorably to our industry competitive set."
Varga reaffirmed the company's expectation for the year of underlying sales growth of 6 percent to 7 percent, with full-year earnings per share of $3.40-$3.60.
For the quarter that ended July 31, Brown-Forman reported profits of $156 million, up 4 percent from the same period last year. Per share, earnings were $0.75, up 7 percent from the same period.
The underlying sales numbers were boosted by gains for Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey, up 18 percent; and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Fire, which contributed almost half of the family's underlying net sales growth of 6 percent, the company said.
Super premium bourbon Woodford Reserve showed double-digit growth for the brand family, up 28 percent.
Old Forester, Brown-Forman's newly hip legacy bourbon, also had double-digit underlying net sales, the company said.
Tequila brands el Jimador and Herradura saw underlying net sales growth of 11 percent and 28 percent, respectively, with double-digit gains for both brands in the U.S.
Finlandia vodka also returned to modest growth, the company said, with a 3 percent increase in underlying net sales, mostly in Poland.
But Southern Comfort continued to struggle, with a four percent decline in underlying net sales for the quarter. Brown-Forman blamed "competitive pressure from new flavored whiskies."