Shares of wine and alcoholic beverage producer and marketer Constellation Brands
For the quarter, net sales grew 18.9%, comprising 8% organic growth and 10.9% growth from an acquisition of Vincor. That deal added well-known brands such as Inniskillin and Toasted Head wines to a stable of more than 200 alcohol brands. Reported diluted earnings fell 17% but included a number of one-time restructuring and merger-related charges. After those charges were stripped out, management reported that earnings grew closer to 5%.
During the company's conference call, management highlighted that the Australian wine market's growth has slowed markedly, and that it is waiting for a better supply situation. In addition, the U.K. market has been challenging because of tough retail pricing growth, duty costs that cut into profits, and a competitive market overall.
The acquisition of Vincor has made it more difficult to discern comparable trends from a profitability standpoint, but it's clear that top-line organic growth was impressive across the board, up in the high single digits across the wine, spirit, and beer segments. From a geographic perspective (and including Vincor), sales growth (on a constant currency basis) was 21% in North America, 10% in Europe, and 9% in Australia/New Zealand.
Through the acquisition of Vincor and the 2004 purchase of Robert Mondavi, Constellation has become one of the leading alcohol producers and distributors. Its peers include Diageo
Over the past five years, Constellation has grown sales at a 14.1% compound annual rate, and earnings have grown an impressive 26.5% each year over that time frame (according to Capital IQ). Debt has grown to almost 50% of capital, thanks to the Vincor deal. But as long as strong top-line growth continues, the company should be able to keep on posting cash flow growth to pay off debt and improve its returns on invested capital.
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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of Diageo but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to further discuss any companies mentioned. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.