Wine maker Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ ) released earnings on Wednesday. The stock initially dropped on the announcement, but there's one detail from the earnings call that shouldn't be overlooked. Let's quickly recap the results. Then we'll dive into the must-know nugget of information.
Constellation Brands delivered full-year 2012 revenues and profits that beat Wall Street expectations. Carving out acquisitions, net sales increased 3%, powered by double-digit growth for its popular Robert Mondavi and Black Box brands. The crown jewels of the company's Crown Imports joint venture -- Modelo Especial, Corona Light, Negra Modelo, and Pacifico brands -- enjoyed record sales for the year.
Beer war beneficiary
In mid-2012, Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD ) agreed to sell its 50% stake in the Crown Imports joint venture to Constellation, giving Constellation complete control of Crown and rights for Grupo Modelo (UNKNOWN: GPMCY.DL ) brands in the U.S.
Key brands in the deal include Corona, the U.S.' leading import beer, and Modelo Especial, Mexico's premium beer brand, which has enjoyed double-digit growth annually for nearly the past two decades. With the goal of growing the Grupo Modelo brand to 100 million cases from the 35 million sold in 2011, Constellation's management projects the "transformational" deal will double its annual revenues.
However, in February, the Department of Justice blocked the deal, debating that AB InBev would have too much pricing control if the deal passed. But just a couple of weeks later, Constellation's nearly $3 billion purchase of Grupo Modelo's Piedras Negras brewery in Mexico seemed to satisfy the DOJ. As a result, Constellation shares jumped on the news.
Now that the deal is back on, investors are looking for any clues as to what might happen next, making one nugget of information from the earnings release so critical. Constellation CEO Rob Sands stated in Wednesday's call, "We've reached two key milestones for regulatory approvals for the transaction including an agreement in principle with the U.S. Department of Justice and unanimous approval by the Mexican Antitrust Commission." This update is exactly what Constellation investors had been hoping for.
Foolish bottom line
This Grupo Modelo deal comes at an important time for Constellation. Constellation is mostly a wine company with a smaller spirits and beer portfolio, so the company stands to benefit handsomely from diversification of its revenue streams. Constellation's stock price increased a meteoric 70% in 2012, but investors are wondering if that type of growth can continue. However, this recent nugget of information has Constellation investors hopeful that its star will continue to burn brightly.
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