Constellation Brands' profit tops Street estimates

(Reuters) - Constellation Brands Inc STZ.N reported a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday, as the company benefited from an acquisition and selling a greater number of more expensive products.

Constellation, the world's largest branded wine company, is poised to become the nation's No. 3 beer maker behind Anheuser-Busch InBev ABI.BR and Miller Coors SAB.LTAP.N, once it takes over Grupo Modelo's GMODELOC.MX U.S. business.

That acquisition, which is part of AB InBev’s takeover of Modelo, is expected to close around the end of the current first quarter or shortly thereafter, the company said.

Assuming the $4.75 billion deal closes on time, Constellation said it expects to earn $2.55 to $2.85 per share, excluding items, in fiscal 2014.

Analysts on average were expecting $2.78 per share for the year, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, which ended on February 28, Constellation had net income of $81.7 million, or 43 cents per share, down from $103.0 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding restructuring-related costs and a loss on the write-off of financing costs, earnings were 47 cents per share. On that basis, analysts on average were expecting 45 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales, which exclude excise taxes, rose to $695.9 million from $628.1 million a year earlier.

Constellation shares rose 27 cents to $48.90 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting By Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek