January 4, 2017 / 3:08 PM / 8 months ago

BUZZ-Constellation Brands Inc: BofA Merrill raises to 'buy'

** Beer and wine maker's shares up 2.3 pct at $158.25 in early trading, touching their highest in nearly 2 months

** BofA Merrill raises rating to "buy" from "underperform" and PT to $175 from $155, one day prior to company's Q3 results

** Brokerage had reduced rating to "underperform" after U.S. election results, citing concerns that a Republican win would increase the risk of a change in trade policy and hurt Constellation

** "Our analysis of potential tax policy scenarios suggests the situation is manageable for STZ," analyst Bryan Spillane writes in note on Wednesday

** Company has potential to grow faster than its food and beverage peers in CY18 - Spillane

** Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday that it expects beer trends to be even stronger despite tougher comps in FY3Q and expects FY17 guidance likely to increase again

** 12 of 18 brokerages rate the stock "buy", 5 "hold" and 1 "sell"; median PT $183

** Up to Tuesday's close, stock had risen 8.6 pct in last 12 months

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