Moody's raises long-term credit rating on Brown-Forman, citing its consistently strong performance, focus on emerging markets

NEW YORK , September 20, 2011 () – Moody's Investors Service raised the long-term credit rating on Jack Daniel's maker Brown-Forman Corp. on Tuesday, citing its consistently strong performance.

The ratings agency said the liquor company has taken the right steps by selling underperforming businesses, scaling back its wine business and making acquisitions.

Moody's said Brown-Forman, whose other brands include Finlandia and Southern Comfort, has also found success by concentrating more on emerging markets and becoming less dependent on the U.S. The ratings agency said that U.S. sales now make up 45 percent of Brown-Forman's total sales, compared with 77 percent a decade ago.

Moody's boosted Brown-Forman's long-term rating one notch in investment-grade status to "A1" from "A2" and maintained its "Prime-1" rating for short-term debt. The Louisville, Ky., company's outlook is stable.

Last month Brown-Forman reported that its first-quarter net income rose 6 percent, benefiting from strong sales overseas and its new Jack Daniel's honey-flavored whiskey.

Shares of Brown-Forman gained $1.82, or 2.7 percent, to $70.16 in afternoon trading. Over the past year, the stock has traded between $58.85 and $77.25.

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