Consumer products conglomerate Fortune Brands Inc reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings on Friday, helped by lower expenses, and said its plan to separate is on track.

The maker of Jim Beam bourbon, Moen faucets and Titleist golf balls said net income was $85.4 million, or 55 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $11.5 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings were 63 cents per share, topping analysts average estimate of 58 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fortune said in December that it planned to spin off its home goods unit and sell or spin off its golf unit, amid pressure from activist investor William Ackman, raising the odds for a takeover of the parts.

The company said the process is on track for completion in the second half of 2011.

It expects 2011 earnings before items to rise at a percentage rate that ranges from the high single-digit range to the high-teens range, minus the impact from separating the business.

Quarterly net sales were $1.90 billion, up from $1.80 billion a year earlier and topping analysts' average estimate of $1.8 billion.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Derek Caney)