January 5, 2018 / 12:48 PM / 9 months ago

Constellation third quarter sales miss, no hit from legalized pot

(Reuters) - Constellation Brands Inc (STZ.N) missed Wall Street estimates for third quarter revenue on Friday and said wine and spirit sales for the full-year would be at the low end of a previous forecast, sending its shares down as much as 4 percent.

FILE PHOTO: Corona beers are pictured at a BevMo! store ahead of Constellation Brands Inc company results in Pasadena, California U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Its stock recouped some of the losses later in the day after Chief Executive Robert Sands said the company was seeing no real impact on alcohol sales from the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in six U.S. states.

The comments come two months after Constellation said it took a nearly 10 percent stake in Canada’s biggest cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corp (WEED.TO), becoming the first major beer and spirits company to invest in legal cannabis.

“We really can’t see any impact in terms of how it’s (cannabis) affecting beverage alcohol in general and even in the 6 states, including California,” Sands said on a conference call with analysts.

He also said it was too early to tell whether Constellation’s investment in the Canadian company would be “cannibalistic or complementary”.

“There’s just not enough information I think to really say how that’s going to affect beverage alcohol in general going forward,” Sands said.

Constellation said that the recent U.S. tax overhaul would reduce its net deferred tax liabilities by $300-$400 million, a non-cash benefit that would be reported in the current quarter.

The company also announced a $3 billion share buyback program and raised in its full-year profit forecast.

Its shares, up around 50 percent last year, were down 1.9 percent at $221.5 in afternoon trading.

WINE AND SPIRITS DISAPPOINT

Wine and spirit sales, which make up a little less than a half of Constellation’s total revenue, fell 10.3 percent in the third quarter, due to hurricanes in Florida and Texas, wildfires in California and a drop in demand from retail customers.

The drop in sales also reflects the divestiture of the company’s Canadian wine business in December 2016.

The company said it now expects sales of wine and spirits, which include Robert Mondavi wines and Svedka Vodka, to be at the lower end of a prior forecast that already called for a decline of 4-6 percent for the full-year.

Rationalization of lower-margin wines and spirit brands alone will cause a 1 percentage point fall, Chief Financial Officer David Klein said on the call.

Beer sales, the company’s biggest business, rose 8 percent in the quarter. Depletions, or distributor shipments to retail customers, rose 9.1 percent due to the Labor Day and Thanksgiving holidays in the quarter.

Net income rose to $491.1 million, or $2.44 per share, in the third quarter ended Nov. 30, from $405.9 million, or $1.98 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items the company earned $2.00 per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.89 per share.

Net sales fell marginally to $1.80 billion from $1.81 billion but missed analysts' estimates of $1.87 billion. (bit.ly/2F3QAxl)

The company also raised its full-year profit forecast to $8.40-$8.50 per share. Analysts were expecting $8.43.

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto and Patrick Graham

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