About Brown-Forman Corporation
Distiller Brown-Forman (B-F) spreads its spirits around the world. The company's portfolio of mid-priced to super-premium alcoholic beverages includes such well-known brands as Jack Daniel's, Canadian Mist, Finlandia, and Woodford Reserve. Its wine labels include Sonoma-Cutrer and Korbel champagnes. Jack Daniel's is the company's signature brand and the largest-selling American whiskey in the world (by volume). Offering more than 40 brands, the company sells its beverages in more than 170 countries across the globe; sales outside the US account for more than half of revenue.
Although Brown-Forman operates in one segment, it generates revenue through two categories: Spirits (about 95% of sales) and Wine (5%).
Spirits includes the company's whiskey (Jack Daniel's, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Whiskey, Slane Irish Whiskey), scotch (BenRiach, GlenDronach), tequila (Herradura, el Jimador, Pepe Lopez), vodka (Finlandia), and liqueur (Chambord) brands, while wines includes the wine (Sonoma-Cutrer) and champagne (Korbel) brands.
The Jack Daniel's family of brands is the leading contributor to Brown-Forman's revenue, with Woodford Reserve, Finlandia, el Jimador, and Herradura other key labels.
The US is Brown-Forman's largest market, accounting for about 45% of the company's sales. Its largest foreign markets include Europe (the UK, Germany, France, Russia, Turkey, and Poland) with more than a quarter of sales and Australia contributing another 5%. Other important markets include Brazil, Mexico, and Canada.
The company's significant properties are located in the US (Alabama, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee), as well as Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, and Scotland.
Sales and Marketing
In the US Brown-Forman sells to distributors or state governments (for states that control alcohol sales); it also relies on distributors in Russia, Japan, Italy, and South Africa. The company owns distribution companies in more than a dozen markets, including Australia, Mexico, Spain, Poland, and Turkey. It sells products directly to retailers, wholesalers, or, in Canada, provincial governments. In the UK, it partners with competitor Bacardi to sell a combined portfolio of both companies' products.
The company's advertising costs were $414 million in fiscal 2018, compared to $383 million in 2017 and $417 in 2016.
Brown-Forman has seen uneven revenue growth over the past five years (often because of the negative effect of foreign exchange), with sales ultimately up just under 10% during that time. Net income has generally trended up, although it fell more than 35% in fiscal 2017 after fiscal 2016 net income was bolstered by a gain on the sale of business.
In fiscal 2018 (ended April) the company reported revenue of $3.2 billion, up 8% from the prior year. The results were primarily driven by the Jack Daniel's family of brands (including the launch of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye Whiskey). Geographically, the US and emerging markets such as Russia and Brazil were key contributors.
Net income that year was up 7% to $717 million, primarily because of revenue growth.
Cash at the end of fiscal 2018 was about $239 million, an increase of $57 million from the prior year. Cash from operations contributed $632 million to the coffers, while investing activities used $128 million, mainly for property and equipment. Financing activities used another $466 million as a result of dividends paid, among other activities.
Active portfolio management is the key strategic initiative for Brown-Forman. The company continues to add new products (organically as well as through acquisitions) and divest non-core operations as it reshapes its portfolio amid changing consumer tastes.
This is particularly important for Jack Daniel's, which -- as the most valuable spirits brand in the world according to market intelligence firm IWSR -- has powered Brown-Forman's growth. In fiscal 2018, the Jack Daniel's family of brands reported underlying net sales growth of 6% as products such as Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey (launched in 2011), Jack Daniel's Tennessee Fire (2015), and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye (September 2017) continue to build momentum.
Brown-Forman has expanded other brands, as well, in recent years. In fiscal 2017 it introduced its first completely new bourbon in two decades, the super-premium Coopers' Craft, and the following year it added Old Forester Statesman whiskey (inspired by the film Kingsman: The Golden Circle). In early 2019 the company expanded the Coopers' Craft brand with Coopers' Craft Barrel Reserve.
Along the way, Brown-Forman as sold underperforming or non-core brands, including Southern Comfort and Tuaca liqueurs.
Brown-Forman's roots can be traced back to 1870 and George Garvin Brown's Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. By 1890 Brown had partnered with his accountant and friend, George Forman, to create Brown-Forman. The company made its first acquisition in the 1920s and issued its first public stock in 1933. It acquired Jack Daniel's in 1956.
850 DIXIE HWY
Louisville, KY 40210-1038
Phone: 1 (502) 585-1100
Employer Type: Publicly Owned
Stock Symbol: BF.B
Stock Exchange: , NYSE
Board Chairman: G. Garvin Brown
Company Chairman and CEO: Paul C. Varga
COO: Lawson E. Whiting
Employees (This Location): 964
Employees (All Locations): 4,700
Vargem Grande Do Sul, Brazil