Constellation Brands Reports 63% Q4 Profit Drop, FY Outlook Disappoints

| About: Constellation Brands, (STZ)

Wine and spirits maker Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) said Thursday fourth quarter earnings slipped by 63 percent amid weaker revenues due to the divestiture of its Australian and U.K. wine business.

Before the opening bell, the company's share price lost 7.61 percent falling to $22.81 apiece in trade on the New York Stock Exchange, after reporting a weaker than expected profit outlook for the full-year of fiscal 2013.

For fiscal year 2013, the company projects per share earnings between $1.89 and $1.99, and sees free cash flow of $425 to $475 million. Analysts are expecting profits of $2.23 per share.

The company makes and sells everything from Corona Extra beer to Inniskillin and Jackson Triggs wine, as well as Paul Masson Grande Amber brandy, among others. Net income in the latest quarter fell to $103 million, or 51 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $280 million, or $1.32 a share.

For the final fourth quarter, the wine maker said pre-tax restructuring charges and unusual items came in at $44 million compared to $1 million for the prior year period.

The company, whose quarter ended February 29, said revenue dipped 12 percent to $628 million from $715 million last year. It attributed the sales decline to the divestiture of the Australian and U.K. wine business. On average, analysts polled by Bloomberg were projecting earnings of 38 cents on sales of $626 million.

"We finished the year with positive results and strong marketplace momentum for our U.S. wine and spirits business, which positions us well for the upcoming year," president and chief executive Rob Sands said in a statement.

"We also generated record free cash flow, repurchased more than $400 million of stock and acquired the remaining interest in Ruffino, which strengthens our position in the growing Italian wine category," he added.

On a constant currency basis, North American total sales grew five percent due to volume growth and favourable product mix, the company said.

Constellation's equity earnings from its 50 percent interest in the Crown Imports joint venture totalled $49 million, down from $52 million a year earlier. Crown generated net sales of $525 million, up from $480 million in the prior year-earlier quarter, as volume growth drove the nine percent increase.

Constellation's also announced on Thursday its board has approved a $1 billion buyback program, which it plans to execute over a period of two years. The company currently anticipates that in fiscal 2013 it will repurchase approximately 50 percent of this new authorization.

Disclosure: None