April 6, 2016 / 2:42 PM / a year ago

Constellation considers IPO for part of Canadian wine business

Bottles of the beer, Modelo, a brand of Constellation Brands Inc., sit on a supermarket shelf in Los Angeles, California April 1, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - Constellation Brands Inc (STZ.N) said on Wednesday it was considering taking a part of its Canadian wine business public and reported better-than-expected quarterly net sales, helped by strong demand for its premium Corona and Modelo beers.

Shares of the company, which forecast full-year profit largely above estimates, rose as much as 4.88 percent to a record high of $158.75 in early morning trading.

Chief Executive Rob Sands said the full value of the Canadian wine business, which delivered “excellent overall financial results” in 2016, was not being recognized.

Sands said an IPO would create better visibility and that the company expected to take a final decision later this year.

Constellation produces the Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin wine brands in Canada, where it operated eight wineries as of February last year.

The company is trying to separate the consistently growing Canadian wine business from its counterpart in the United States, CLSA analyst Caroline Levy told Reuters.

An increase in the Hispanic population in the United States has spurred demand for Modelo Especial and Corona, premium Mexican beer brands which have also won over other American consumers.

Net income attributable to the company rose 13.4 percent to $243.4 million, or $1.19 in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 29, beating average analysts estimates of $1.14, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose 13.8 percent to $1.54 billion, topping estimates of $1.52 billion.

Constellation said it would acquire The Prisoner Wine Company’s portfolio of brands for about $285 million in cash from Huneeus Vintners, a fine wine company.

The deal is expected to close by the end of April and add about $0.03 to $0.05 to earnings per share in the year ending February 2017.

Constellation is paying a lot for acquisitions to add premium brands, Levy said.

“The consumer is moving upscale, the consumer wants specialtly and premium brands.”

The company also forecast earnings of $6.05-$6.35 per share for the year, largely above analysts’ average expectation of $6.11.

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anupama Dwivedi

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