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Home A REVERSAL OF FORTUNES:

Fortune Brands, Inc. (FO: NYSE) through its subsidiaries engages in the manufacture, production, and sale of spirits, home and hardware products, and golf products. The multi-brand conglomerate, by virtue of its extensive portfolio, has a bird’s eye view of the domestic economy and it recently offered some sobering thoughts to the financial community as it provided an update on its second quarter earnings. “The environment has become more challenging for our brands and the second quarter is shaping up to be more difficult than we had anticipated,” said Fortune Brands president and chief executive officer Bruce Carbonari. “April was a solid month that tracked with our expectations, followed by softer-than-anticipated results in May. We’ve seen continued softness in June and it’s now clear that we will not make up the May shortfall.” Among his varied business interests are Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra Golf. “With the rapid spike in gasoline prices and the decline in consumer confidence, we’re seeing American consumers pull back. At the same time, the correction in the U.S. housing market has intensified. Together, this means that home improvement purchases and homebuilding remain soft, that many golfers are deferring ‘big ticket’ purchases of golf clubs, and that trading up to premium spirits brands continues in the U.S. but at a more moderate pace,” Carbonari continued. With consumer spending down, according to the CEO, the costs of doing business are the polar opposite. “Meanwhile, higher costs for commodities such as petroleum-based materials, glass and steel are adding to the pressures facing manufacturers,” he said. As a result of these events, Fortune Brands told Wall Street it now expects to generate diluted earnings per share (EPS) before charges/gains for the second quarter down at a high-teens-to-mid-20s percentage rate compared to diluted earnings per share of $1.51 before charges/gains for continuing operations in the year-ago quarter. The company’s previously announced target for the second quarter had been for diluted EPS before charges/gains to be down at a high-single-digit-to-mid-teens percentage rate. Fortune Brands plans to report results for the second quarter on the morning of Friday, July 25th.