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Constellation Brands Has a Wine Problem and a Weed Problem

By Motley Fool Staff – Updated Apr 19, 2019 at 7:25PM

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It didn’t take the company long to realize it was overvaluing its investment in Canopy Growth.

Check out all our earnings call transcripts.

Constellation Brands (STZ 0.20%), the alcoholic beverage giant behind such wine brands as Franciscan Estates and Robert Mondavi, beers such as Corona and Modelo, and a catalog of others, is feeling an expectations hangover. The company warned last week that it was cutting guidance because of lower than forecast wine sales. But the bigger news is that it has already realized it overpaid for its stake in Canadian legal cannabis player Canopy Growth (CGC -2.39%).

In this segment of the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill and senior analyst Aaron Bush discuss the issues the company faces.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Jan. 11, 2019.

Chris Hill: Shares of Constellation Brands taking a hit this week after the company announced that guidance for 2019 would be lower due to weak wine sales. Aaron, Constellation Brands, they've got a portfolio of wine labels, spirits, beer, probably best known for Corona. They're also already writing down their investment in Canopy Growth, the cannabis company up in Canada.

Aaron Bush: Yeah, that's the bigger part of the story to me. Really, this was all about expectations vs. reality. I don't think anybody's too surprised what's going on in their core business. But writing down their investment in Canopy Growth already, that's news.

Canopy Growth is the world's largest medical cannabis company. It has tons of brands in the recreational space. They've continued to make lots of big deals. As that industry grows, Canopy Growth will be a relevant player, it will be one of the largest players. I think that needs to be respected. But, it takes time to scale. It takes time to get there. And I think lot of the valuations that we've seen in the stock market, a lot of the deals that we've seen companies like Constellation Brands make with companies like this, they really were pricing in that that would happen much faster than it could in reality. I think this writedown is probably the first of many for different companies out there in this unrolling in 2019.

Hill: They made a $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth.

Bush: That's a lot of money.

Hill: I think we were all surprised, not that they made the investment, but that it was that big. You mentioned, we're going to see more writedowns from more companies. Is it safe to assume we're going to see more writedowns with this company? They invested $4 billion last year. They just wrote down $160 million. What are the odds that at one other point in 2019, Constellation Brands is going to come out and say, "By the way, we're writing some more of this down."

Bush: It's certainly possible. The deal hasn't been there for very long, so I don't know how much they'd write down so quickly. The deal was premised on being able to move fast and build something big quickly, so it is possible, but I don't know to what degree a writedown could be.

Aaron Bush has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Constellation Brands. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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