Brown-Forman jumps 4% on Q4 financial results; N.Y. says UPS illegally shipped 700K cartons of untaxed cigs; and a Brit’s bonkers for Roadhouse

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 6:17 p.m.

Paul Varga

BROWN-FORMAN said fiscal fourth-quarter operating income soared to $726 million on sales of $933 million, on the continued strength of Jack Daniel’s whiskey sales. But the figures included a one-time $485 million gain from the sale of Southern Comfort and Tuaca during the quarter, which ended April 30. On a diluted per-share basis, earnings were $2.60 per share vs. 66 cents a year ago at the spirits and wine giant (press release and the SEC 8-K). What analysts had forecast. The company’s class A and class B shares both closed up 3.5% (Google Finance). CEO Paul Varga called the fiscal year “a tale of two halves,” with emerging market sales rising by 8% in the first half of the year before paring that decline to 1% in the second half (Wall Street Journal). Management held a 10 a.m. conference call to discuss the results, and it’s now available for replay. More about Brown-Forman.

UPS: New York’s attorney general yesterday accused UPS of knowingly shipping about 700,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes from Native American reservations to consumers and smoke shops between 2010 and 2014, even though the company had agreed to halt the practice more than a decade ago. UPS denied the allegation (Associated Press).

Amazon logoAMAZON will invest another $3 billion in its India operations, more than doubling its prior commitment in what CEO Jeff Bezos said yesterday is the company’s fastest-growing market. Two years ago, the online retail giant announced a $2 billion investment in the nation, where it already employs 45,000 workers. Bezos disclosed the news at a Washington business summit attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (BBC and International Business Times). Amazon didn’t help its efforts when consumers threatened a boycott over the company’s selling doormats bearing the image of the Hindu gods and other religious symbols; the company pulled the items this week (Mashable).

KINDRED: Jurors heard opening statements yesterday in a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and nursing home giant, brought by the family of a man who died in 2011 at the Greenbriar Terrace nursing home in Nashua, N.H. Byam “Bing” Whitney Jr. had developed pneumonia, followed by bedsores that led to sepsis; he was 84 (Union-Leader).

PAPA JOHN’S: A Miami delivery driver filed another proposed class-action lawsuit against 31-store franchiser Pizzerias LLC in Florida federal court on Monday, accusing the company of shorting drivers on mileage reimbursements (Law 360). In August, Papa John’s agreed to pay $12.3 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of underpaying mileage reimbursements to drivers in Florida and five other states. That suit was originally filed in federal court in St. Louis in 2009, and represented about 19,000 drivers (KYCIR).

TEXAS ROADHOUSE: Noted, because it popped up in Boulevard’s news search results this morning: TripAdvisor users rated Texas Roadhouse No. 21 of 194 restaurants in St. George, Utah. “This was possibly our best meal out of the four that we had in St George,” user Tired Boy of the U.K.’s Sheffield wrote yesterday, in a perfect five-star review. “Some people may feel that they don’t like the chain restaurant scene, but it was our first time there and we’d definitely go back again” (TripAdvisor). St. George is a Mojave Desert resort in the state’s southwest corner.

In other news, U.S. stocks closed the day up modestly, as did most of the 11 big employers in Boulevard’s Stock Portfolio (Google Finance). Finally, the cast of “The Phantom of the Opera” was to pay tribute to the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali this afternoon at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, where it began a 12-day run last week; Ali died last week at 74, and his funeral will be Friday (WDRB).

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