* Sees FY EPS $1.93-$2.03 ex-items; Wall St view $2.23
* Sets $1 billion share buyback
* Q4 adj EPS 69 cents, tops Street estimate of 39 cents
* Shares down nearly 8 percent
By Martinne Geller
April 5 Constellation Brands Inc
forecast earnings for its new fiscal year well below Wall Street
estimates, sending the wine maker's shares down nearly 8
The maker of Robert Mondavi and Ravenswood wines pointed to
a sharp drop in free cash flow this year due to the absence of
tax benefits that boosted cash flow in fiscal 2012.
The company said on Thursday that it expected earnings of
$1.93 to $2.03 per share, excluding one-time items, for fiscal
2013, which began March 1.
That compares with analysts' average estimate of $2.23 per
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Constellation
earned $2.34 per share in fiscal 2012.
The company also said its board had authorized a $1 billion
share buyback program.
For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, ended Feb. 29,
Constellation reported net income of $103 million, or 51 cents
per share, down from $279.8 million, or $1.32 per share, a year
Excluding restructuring and other charges, earnings were 69
cents per share, which blew past analysts' average estimate of
Sales fell 12 percent to $628 million. The decline largely
stemmed from Constellation's sale of its Australian and British
wine business. North American sales rose 5 percent, helped by
volume growth and a better mix of products.
Equity income from the company's half of a joint venture
with Mexico's Grupo Modelo that imports Corona
beer into the United States rose 2 percent.
Constellation said it expected to repurchase shares under
the new authorization from time to time over a two-year period,
completing half of it this fiscal year. The new buyback
authorization is in addition to the company's current one for
Constellation shares were down $1.92, or 7.8 percent, at
$22.77 in early trading.