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solzberg in Gainers & Losers,

Constellation Brands to reach $165 in medium term

I remain upbeat about the shares of Constellation Brands, a large international producer and marketer of alcoholic beverages. Recently, the company issued solid financials for its fiscal 2016 fourth quarter. Revenues increased 14% y-o-y to $1.543 bn, driven by strong organic sales growth and gains from the Meiomi and Ballast Point acquisitions, and surpassed consensus estimate of $1.526 bn. Revenues also benefited from strong volumes and favorable pricing at the beer business, which drove an 18% sales growth in that segment. Wine and spirits’ sales improved 4% year over year, on a constant currency basis, mainly driven by increased volumes. Adjusted operating income jumped nearly 24% to $432.8 mn, and operating margin expanded 240 basis points to 28.2%. Adjusted earnings per share rose 15.5% to $1.19 topping analysts’ average projection of $1.14.

In fiscal 2016, Constellation Brands generated $1.414 bn in cash from operations and $522 mn in free cash flow. During FQ4, the company bought back nearly 246,000 shares for about $34 mn. Besides, in April, the company raised its quarterly dividend by 29% to 40 cents per share, which offers annualized dividend yield of around 1%.

To strengthen its position in the wine and spirits business, recently, Constellation Brands agreed to acquire five high-end brands made by The Prisoner Wine Company, a producer based in California. This purchase will cost $285 mn in cash and should enhance earnings per share by 3-5 cents in the current fiscal year. Also, in an attempt to create value for its shareholders and strengthen the financial position of its Wine and Spirits business, the company is assessing the advantages of executing an initial public offer (IPO) for a certain portion of its Canadian wine business.

Constellation Brands provided an encouraging outlook for fiscal 2017, forecasting adjusted EPS in the range $6.05-6.35 compared with $5.43 recorded in fiscal 2016. The company expects both sales and operating income for the beer segment to grow 14-17%, while wine and spirits’ sales growth is projected in the mid-single digit range, with operating income growth in this segment in the mid-to-high single-digit range. Constellation Brands also anticipates capital expenditure of $1.25-1.35 bn for fiscal 2017, as it continues to progress with the expansion of its Mexican beer business.

Shares of Constellation Brands are currently consolidating above the $150 support level. The stock, in me opinion, is well positioned to continue growth, with medium-term target at $165.