Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE:FO, ), a leading consumer brands company, today announced record third quarter earnings propelled by top-line sales growth of 5%, and successful brand building and shareholder value initiatives. Diluted EPS before charges reached 51 cents, up 21% from 42 cents a year ago. Robust demand for the company's kitchen and bath cabinet and super-premium spirits brands, and strong sales for market leading brands including Moen, Master Lock, FootJoy and Jim Beam, contributed to the company's performance. The company increased return on equity by more than 100 basis points. "Fortune Brands delivered another quarter of strong results, supported by solid fundamentals and a strategy sharply focused on maximizing shareholder value," said Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Norm Wesley. "We're building our leading consumer brands with innovative new products, creative marketing, high-impact advertising and a commitment to unsurpassed customer service. We're executing our major supply-chain restructuring program to increase operating efficiencies, strengthen competitiveness and generate savings. To drive shareholder value even higher, we're improving returns, repurchasing shares, paying an attractive dividend and progressing the strategic evolution of our business portfolio." The company announced on October 9th that it is exploring strategic options for its office products unit. "We believe the strength of our brands and our sustained operational improvements position Fortune Brands well to navigate ongoing challenges related to foreign exchange rates, interest rates and energy costs," Wesley added. "Fortune Brands remains on track to deliver solid double-digit earnings per share growth for the full year 2000. For 2001 and beyond, our key goals continue to be double-digit EPS growth and improved returns."