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To facilitate the smooth completion of its previously announced 3-for-2 stock split, the shareholders of Brown-Forman Corporation (BF.B - Analyst Report) have amended their charter to enlarge the total number of authorized shares for both Class A and Class B. Per the amendment, the charter will now authorize a total of 85 million Class A shares and 400 Class B shares.

Last month, the global producer and distributor of premium alcoholic beverages had announced its intention to split its Class A and Class B common stocks, proposing to distribute one additional share to shareholders for every two shares held. Brown-Forman will distribute the new shares under the 3-for-2 stock split in the form of a stock dividend.

Brown-Forman announced the record date for the spilt as August 3, 2012, with the shareholders receiving the additional shares on August 10. Further, the company stated that its share price will be adjusted accordingly on the New York Stock Exchange for trading beginning on August 13. This split will mark the sixth stock split in the last 35 years.

Recently, the board of directors of Brown-Forman also announced a regular cash dividend of 23.33 cents per share on a split-adjusted basis for both Class A and Class B shares.  This dividend will be paid on October 1, 2012 to shareholders of record as of September 7, 2012.

Brown-Forman’s stock split reflects the company’s commitment to enhance long-term value for shareholders. It also portrays the company’s confidence to boost its longer-term prospects for earnings as well as cash flows.

During fiscal 2012, Brown-Forman generated $516 million of cash from operations and deployed $192 million for dividend payout, $220 million toward share repurchase, $58 million on capital expenditures and $248 million toward debt repayment.

Brown-Forman ended the fiscal with cash and cash equivalents of $338 million and long-term debt of $506 million (including the current maturities) compared with $567 million and $759 million, respectively, in fiscal 2011.

Brown-Forman possessing brands such as Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia, Southern Comfort and Canadian Mist, command a strong portfolio of globally recognized brands. We believe this provides a competitive edge to the company and bolsters its well-established position in the market.

Brown-Forman is in direct competition with Beam Inc. (BEAM - Snapshot Report), Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ - Analyst Report) and Diageo plc (DEO - Analyst Report). Currently, Brown-Forman has a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating. We maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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