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Constellation Brands' Profit Edges Higher on Wine Sales

October 07, 2005|From Associated Press

Constellation Brands Inc., the world's biggest wine company, said Thursday that its fiscal second-quarter profit edged up 2.3%, lifted by higher sales of wine and its December acquisition of Robert Mondavi Corp.

Net income grew to $79.97 million, or 34 cents a share, after preferred dividend payments in the three months ended Aug. 31, compared with $78.16 million, or 35 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were $98.1 million, or 41 cents a share. That matched the average estimate of 41 cents among analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Sales before taxes jumped 13% to $1.47 billion.

Constellation, headquartered near Rochester, N.Y., is the only beer, wine and spirits company based in the United States. Its more than 200 brands include jug wines, coveted California reds, beer imports such as Corona and liquors such as Fleischmann's vodka, Skol gin and Black Velvet Canadian whiskey.

Founded in upstate New York's grape-growing Finger Lakes region in 1945, Constellation quietly became the world's No. 1 winemaker in 2003, when it bought Australian vintner BRL Hardy Ltd. for $1.1 billion.

It jumped further ahead of longtime American wine leader E. & J. Gallo Winery by acquiring Napa Valley-based Robert Mondavi in December for $1.3 billion.

Last month, Constellation offered $900 million for Vincor International Inc. It is urging Canada's biggest wine producer to negotiate a friendly takeover deal before Oct. 14.

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