Constellation profit beat clouded by Trump tax proposals

(Reuters) - Constellation Brands Inc STZ.N, which makes most of its beer in Mexico, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, but investors remained jittery about President-elect Donald Trump's proposals to tighten cross-border trade.

Corona beers are pictured at a BevMo! store ahead of Constellation Brands Inc company results in Pasadena, California U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni - RTSQSQL

The company’s shares, which makes beers such as Corona and Modelo in Mexico and imports them to the United States, fell as much as 8.9 percent to $144.

“There is a high level of investor skittishness around the stock due to potential tax changes from the new administration,” SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst William Chappell Jr. wrote in note.

Trump and congressional Republicans have called for sweeping corporate tax reforms, including one on foreign imports called “border adjustability.”

The proposal, which is meant to boost U.S. manufacturing, would tax U.S. imports at the corporate income tax rate making them 20 percent more expensive, while exports would be exempt.

A specific aspect of border adjustability could disallow a deduction for foreign-sourced cost of goods sold (COGS), which companies such as Constellation currently enjoy.

Constellation said it had modeled several potential scenarios to offset any of the proposed tax reforms, including border adjustability.

The company said in case the proposal does come to pass in its current form, it would consider measures including sourcing natural gas in the United States instead of Mexico to produce glass bottles.

“That’s just one example of things we can do in our supply chain so we turn that into a US cost instead of a Mexican cost and we then have a deductible expense for U.S. tax purposes,” Constellation said on an earnings call with analysts.

Currently, the United States accounts for 40 percent of Constellation’s COGS for beer including freight, while Mexico accounts for the rest.

The company has breweries in Nava, Mexicali and Obregon in Mexico.


Constellation also raised its adjusted profit forecast to $6.55-$6.65 per share for the year ending February, from $6.30-$6.45 it had previously expected.

Beer sales rose 16 percent on higher volumes and pricing, and a boost from its acquisition of craft beer maker Ballast Point last year.

The Victor, New York-based company’s sales rose 10.3 percent to $1.81 billion, in-line with the average analyst estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income attributable rose 50 percent to $405.9 million, or $1.98 per class A share in the third quarter ended Nov. 30.

Excluding certain items, the company earned $1.96 per share, beating the average estimate of $1.72 per share.

Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty