Constellation Brands Earnings Top Estimates; Updates Guidance

Constellation Brands (STZ) reported better than expected fiscal first-quarter earnings Thursday morning, thanks in part to a more favorable tax situation. While revenue figures were below Wall Street's estimates, the company also raised its full-year earnings guidance.

The wine and spirits company reported net income of $49.1 million, or 22 cents per share, in its fiscal first quarter, which ended on May 31, up from $6.5 million, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, the company earned 38 cents per share, topping analysts' estimates of 32 cents per share, according to

Constellation's sales were somewhat disappointing, however, falling to $976.2 million from $1 billion in the year-ago period. Net sales fell to $788 million from $792 million. Analysts had expected sales of $796 million.

Still, the company raised its full-year earnings outlook to a range of $1.63 to $1.78 per share for fiscal 2011, up from its prior view of $1.53 to $1.68 per share. This was in line with analysts' consensus estimate for earnings of $1.70 per share.

"I am pleased with our first quarter results that are in line with our expectations," said Rob Sands, president and CEO. "We are beginning to see benefits from our focus on profitable organic growth."

The company also announced that it had initiated $300 million accelerated stock buyback. The guidance has been updated to reflect the buyback.