Fortune (FO) Beats, Lifts Outlook

Fortune Brands Inc.’s (FO) second-quarter 2010 GAAP earnings more than doubled to $227.4 million from $99.8 million in the year-ago quarter. Excluding special items, adjusted earnings per share came in at 98 cents, surging past the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 76 cents and the year-ago adjusted earnings of 70 cents per share.

Bolstered by the impressive quarterly performance, Fortune Brands raised its outlook for 2010. The company now anticipates earnings of $2.60 to $2.90 per share, compared to the earlier prediction of $2.50 to $2.80. The revised guidance remains in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.85 per share, which dipped 2 cents in just the past week as 2 of 14 covering analysts lowered expectations.

Meanwhile, net sales during the reported quarter grew 9.1% year-over-year to $1.9 billion, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.8 billion. The solid growth was mainly driven by growth across all three businesses, Home & Security, Spirits and Golf.

Home & Security, the flagship segment, posted a solid 13.3% year-over-year growth in sales to $878.1 million as Fortune Brands witnessed higher demand due to the Federal Homebuyer Tax Credit Program. Moreover, segment sales also benefitted from new product launches and broadened relationship with key customers.

Fortune Brands’ Spirits division logged a growth of 5.3% year-over-year to $631.5 million. The increase was primarily driven by higher case volumes as Maker’s Mark, Courvoisier, Hornitos, Cruzan and Red Stag by Jim Beam brands drove growth.

Golf segment sales grew 6.4% year-over-year to $389.3 million as Fortune Brands witnessed higher sales in International markets coupled with double-digit sales increases for Titleist golf balls and FootJoy shoes.

Fortune Brands’ gross profit during the quarter rose 11.3% year-over-year to $919.6 million, while gross margin expanded 100 basis points (bps) to 48.4%. Operating income surged 41.8% to $273.5 million, while operating margin jumped 330 bps to 14.4% reflecting higher sales, improved gross margin, leaner cost structure and divestiture gains.

At the end of the quarter, Fortune Brands had cash and cash equivalents of $416.3 million and long-term debt-to-capitalization ratio of 44.1%, compared to a cash balance of $264.6 million and long-term debt-to-capitalization of 49.1% in the year-ago quarter. During the quarter, the company generated free cash flow of $326.8 million, compared to $311.4 million in the year-ago period. For 2010, Fortune Brands now expects free cash flow of $525 million to $600 million, compared to its previous projection of $375 million to $475 million.

FORTUNE BRANDS (FO): Free Stock Analysis Report

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