UPDATE 2-Fortune Brands earnings rise, sales up

* Q1 EPS ex-items 49 cents

* Sales up 13 pct to $1.63 billion

* Affirms 2010 EPS outlook of $2.50 to $2.80
(Adds CEO comments, details, background throughout)

CHICAGO, April 29 (BestGrowthStock) – Consumer products maker
Fortune Brands Inc (FO.N: ) reported higher quarterly earnings on
Thursday, helped by better-than-expected performance in all
areas of its business.

The company, which earlier this week raised the low end of
its full-year profit forecast, also said it was seeing
consumers “getting more active,” citing stronger-than-expected
remodeling activity in the housing sector.

The maker of Jim Beam bourbon, Moen faucets, and Titleist
golf balls said net income was $72.2 million, or 47 cents a
share, in its first quarter, compared to $7.4 million, or 5
cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Fortune earned 49 cents a share.

Sales rose 13 percent to $1.63 billion, reflecting gains
for spirits and home products, as well as market share gains.

“These strong results were driven by … higher volumes and
lower costs, as each of our three brand groups outperformed our
expectations,” Chief Executive Bruce Carbonari said in a
statement.

On Tuesday, the company said first-quarter sales rose 13
percent and that it expected profit of 49 cents per share.
Fortune also raised the low end of its full-year profit
forecast. [ID:nN27247588]

Comparable net sales rose 7 percent in the spirits business
and 13 percent in the home and security business, while golf
sales fell 3 percent.

The company said the spirits business gained share in key
markets for such brands as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Sauza.

Strong remodeling activity, share gains at home centers and
a move by customers to restock faucets and doors drove
double-digit sales gains for the company’s cabinetry brands,
Moen faucets, Therma-Tru doors and Simonton windows.

Fortune reiterated its recently updated forecast for 2010
earnings before one-time items in the range of $2.50 to $2.80 a
share, a view several analysts called conservative. Its prior
forecast had been earnings of $2.30 to $2.80 a share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S raised their
forecast to $2.78 after Tuesday’s update.

The company also said on Thursday that it expects the
markets for each of its brand groups will be up at a
low-single-digit rate for the year.

It reaffirmed its target for free cash flow for 2010 in the
range of $375 million to $475 million. That outlook excludes
the proceeds from its Cobra golf business that was sold earlier
this month to Puma AG.

Investing Analysis

(Reporting by Ben Klayman, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

UPDATE 2-Fortune Brands earnings rise, sales up