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Constellation spirits range delivers Q1 ‘double-digit’ gains

US drinks group Constellation Brands saw its net sales climb 3% for the first quarter of its 2018 financial year, bolstered by “double-digit” sales growth from its spirits portfolio.

Svedka vodka contributed to double-digit spirits sales gains for Constellation Brands in F2018 Q1

Total reported sales across its beer, wine and spirits divisions hit US$1.94 billion for the three months to the end of May 2017.

“We’re off to a great start for our new fiscal year as we continue to deliver excellent results that demonstrate our commitment to sustain profitable growth and build shareholder value,” said Rob Sands, president and chief executive officer, Constellation Brands.

“Across the business, we’re driving consumer demand for our exceptional portfolio of premium products while executing strong financial and operational performance.”

On a comparable basis operating income for the group increased by 22% to US$669 million, while earnings per share climbed 52% to US$2.34.

Constellation Brands reports its spirits results as part of its Wines and Spirits division, which collectively saw net sales slip 4% over the period.

“Our Wine and Spirits business delivered significant margin improvement in the first quarter, while depletion trends were impacted by the timing of promotional activities,” Sands continued. “However, we have solid programming in place to drive growth for our key brands throughout the remainder of the year.

“Our spirits business posted double-digit sales growth driven by the success of our High West Whiskey portfolio, as well as Svedka Vodka and Paul Masson Brandy.”

Constellation Brands made a number of spirits acquisitions during its last financial year, including purchasing High West Distillery in October 2016 and snapping up a minority stake in Catoctin Creek Distilling in January 2017.

As such, and along with the impact of recent wine transactions, Constellation Brands said it expects full-year wines and spirit sales for fiscal 2018 to decrease from 4-6%, and for operating income to be flat.

Excluding the impact of its Canadian wine business sale, Constellation said the segment should post net sales gains of 4-6% for the year.

Earlier this year Constellation Brands was linked in media reports to a takeover bid for American whiskey giant Brown-Forman, forcing the latter to issue a statement saying it was “not for sale”.

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