Fortune Brands Inc expects the rest of the year to be easier than the first quarter as its cost cuts and marketing efforts start to bear fruit, the consumer products company said on Friday.

The maker of Moen faucets, Jim Beam bourbon and Titleist golf equipment also reported quarterly earnings in line with its recent forecast and affirmed its full-year outlook, saying the stability of its spirits business helped temper the impact of the challenging economy.

Shares of Fortune rose 3.3 percent to $40.60 in light premarket trade.

As the year progresses, comparisons will ease, a number of adverse factors will annualize and we'll realize the benefits of our market-share and cost initiatives, said Chief Executive Bruce Carbonari. So we believe we have the most challenging quarter of the year behind us.

First-quarter net income tumbled 94 percent to $7.4 million, or 5 cents per share, from $120.5 million, or 77 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 30 cents per share, in line with the analysts' average outlook, according to Reuters Estimates, and the preview of results it gave on Tuesday.

Net sales plunged 20 percent to $1.44 billion. Sales fell 3 percent in the spirits business, 5 percent in the golf business and 30 percent in the home and hardware business.

The company also affirmed its 2009 earnings outlook, as it did on Tuesday, saying it expected to earn $2 to $2.50 per share this year, excluding items.

Analysts were expecting $2.29 per share for the year.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)