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Should You Buy This Battered Booze-and-Marijuana Stock?

By Eric Volkman - Oct 3, 2019 at 10:29PM

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Wine and marijuana, it seems, might not be a good combination at the corporate level.

Can you hear that? Yes, that's a huge, collective sigh of relief from the investing community following today's stock market recovery.

Thursday was generally a rebound day for top stocks, but not every investment ticked up. Here's one company in particular that had become popular due in no small degree to its involvement in a certain marijuana stock. When you invest deeply in a company or industry, though, it can bite when said investment isn't doing well.

A set of filled wine glasses on a table.

Image source: Getty Images.

Fallen star?

That smacked-down stock is Constellation Brands (STZ 3.69%), which is going to wake up with a hangover tomorrow morning. Today the company's stock was one of the market's big decliners, falling by over 6%.

The culprit was Q2 of fiscal 2020 earnings, which Constellation released before market open on Thursday. For the period the company earned $2.34 billion in revenue, 2% higher than the same quarter of fiscal 2019. Non-GAAP (adjusted) net income was $529 million ($2.72 per share), down from the year-ago result of $562 million ($2.87).

The revenue figure was more or less in line with analyst expectations, while the adjusted earnings per share handily beat the collective $2.63 estimate.

There was a very big, green asterisk on those numbers, however: the company's considerable investment (around $4 billion) in marijuana stock Canopy Growth (CGC -12.50%). Since marijuana stocks are hardly the strain of choice among investors lately, Constellation is taking a big loss on its investment.

Granted, that loss is only on paper, but at over $484 million, it is big, it is alarming, and it affects headline results. Conveniently, it isn't included in adjusted earnings but folded into GAAP results. On the bottom line under that standard, Constellation swooned to a $525 million net loss in Q2 2020, from the previous year's dreamy profit of $1.1 billion.

It's not only Canopy Growth that's weighing on Constellation's business, however.

While the company's beer portfolio, anchored by the eternally popular Corona brand, is growing well (7% in net sales year over year), the wine and spirits portfolio is crying into its glass. Its net sales fell by nearly 9%, and a sell-off of around 30 brands to wine king E. & J. Gallo hasn't yet gone through.

Riding the White Claw wave

Along with the results release, Constellation announced it would roll out a series of flavored hard seltzers -- the current tipple du jour at bars across America.

Could that be the product line that makes investors forget about how badly Canopy Growth stock is doing? I'm not so sure. Constellation is already late to capitalize on the trend started and maintained by the trend leader White Claw, which became a common sight in the hands of youngish drinkers months ago.

Even if it wasn't late to the party, the new products won't be available until spring 2020. No trend lasts forever, and six months or so is an awfully long stretch in the life of a trend.

Still, that beer business is good, and favorable economic trends should support consumption. Constellation upped its guidance for this fiscal year; it now anticipates a per-share adjusted net profit of $9.00 to $9.20 per share, up from the previous forecast of $8.65 to $8.95. Again, though, that doesn't incorporate the investment in Canopy Growth.

At the end of the day, Constellation basically has two albatrosses on its back: the wine division and its marijuana investment. The company hopes the former will be resolved by the end of this fiscal year, while for the latter Constellation is apparently exerting its influence to help Canopy Growth grow better.

Until there are positive developments in both situations, I think investors will remain bearish on Constellation stock.

Eric Volkman 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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Stocks Mentioned

Constellation Brands, Inc. Stock Quote
Constellation Brands, Inc.
$242.73 (3.69%) $8.65
Canopy Growth Stock Quote
Canopy Growth
$2.87 (-12.50%) $0.41

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