Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Business / Constellation posts 4Q loss, dim forecast

Constellation posts 4Q loss, dim forecast

ROCHESTER — Constellation Brands Inc., which markets Mondavi wine, Svedka vodka and Corona beer, offered a lackluster outlook for its alcoholic drinks Friday as U.S. sales of wine and imported beers remained sluggish in bars and restaurants through the holiday season.

The world’s biggest wine company by volume, with brands such as Robert Mondavi and Clos Du Bois, said its fiscal fourth-quarter loss from December through February narrowed to $51 million on sliding sales on spirits and beer and lingering weakness in the key North American wine market.

The company projected profits in its current fiscal year, which began March 1, will come in well below Wall Street’s average expectation. It expects to earn $1.53 to $1.68 per share, while analysts had predicted a $1.77 profit.

Constellation shares fell 61 cents, or 3.6 percent, in afternoon trading to $16.24.

Constellation said it lost the equivalent of 23 cents a share in the quarter. That compared with a loss of $406.8 million, or $1.88 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time costs, however, it earned 27 cents a share, 3 cents better than the average estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Sales fell 3.6 percent to $708.7 million from $735.1 million.

“In 2009, the wine business was probably flat to up slightly, and in 2010 we’re not projecting anything much different than that,” CEO Rob Sands said in a conference call with analysts.

Beer sales fell 4 percent in the quarter to $419 million. Spirits sales slumped 49 percent to $48 million, hit by the divestiture of the value spirits business.

Sales of branded wines, which account for the bulk of its revenue, rose 2 percent to $620 million. But in North America, they fell 3 percent to $207 million.