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Constellation Brands on the Horizon of a Market Triumph Fueled by Mexican Beer Dominance


Benjamin Hughes

April 7, 2024 - 14:00 pm


Constellation Brands' Stock Poised for Breakthrough Amid Strong Beer Business

Constellation Brands, a vanguard in the beer industry, could be on the cusp of a significant market breakout, buoyed by its robust business and potential market share gains in the swiftly approaching fiscal year. According to the renowned market commentator Jim Cramer, "Constellation Brands has been a dominant player, and it's forecasted to maintain its winning streak." Anticipated expansion in supermarket and convenience store shelf space is set to act as a propellant for the company, particularly as it faces less competition due to the reduction in shelf presence of rivals such as Anheuser-Busch Inbev's Bud Light.

Constellation's prowess is underscored by its ownership of the Mexican beer portfolio that includes the popular brands Modelo, Corona, and Pacifico. With a recent analytical note from Morgan Stanley suggesting that Constellation Brands' stock valuation doesn't fully reflect the potential for robust long-term beer volume growth in upcoming quarters, the narrative around Constellation Brands becomes increasingly persuasive.

Anticipated Market Shifts and The Spring Shelf Reset

The phenomenon known as the 'shelf reset,' which transpires every spring, presents a pivotal moment for retail stores to optimize their shelf space, aligning with the performance of leading brands. Jeff Marks, Club portfolio director, elucidated that gains in shelf space are poised to unfold in the following months, though it may take a short while for these developments to be reflected in the company's financial results.

However, preliminary indicators of this strength are already perceptible in the latest scanner data from Nielsen, noting an 11% upswing in beer sales in the four weeks ending March 23. Cramer remarked on a particular strategy, saying, "There's traditionally buying in April in preparation for Cinco de Mayo." During this period, Constellation Brands is set to continue eroding Bud Light's market share, capitalizing on the momentum that vaulted Modelo to the zenith as the top-selling beer in 2023.

Modelo's Momentum and Marketing Missteps by Competitors

The ascent of Modelo can be attributed to distribution favorable trends and the consequential fallout Bud Light faced following a marketing campaign featuring a transgender influencer, which led to its market share contraction. This has set the stage for Constellation to further assert its dominance.

Moreover, Constellation is slated to unveil the final quarterly results of fiscal 2024 soon, wrapping up this February. While Morgan Stanley forecasts numbers for fiscal Q4 that align closely with expectations, owing to inclement weather conditions in January and February stifling beer consumption, the analysts also anticipate a relatively conservative fiscal 2025 full-year guidance.

A Glimpse into Fiscal 2025 and the Growth Trajectory

Despite this conservative outlook, Morgan Stanley expects "rebounding volume momentum" in the first quarter of fiscal 2025 to continually drive the stock upward. According to Marks, "Volume-driven consumer product narratives are favorable this year given that companies can no longer depend solely on price upticks to bolster sales growth." Constellation Brands shares have notably climbed 9.5% year to date, aligning roughly with the S&P 500's approximately 9.2% ascent over the same period, outperforming the 4% increase witnessed in the consumer staples sector.

Analyst Insights and Price Target Optimism

Recently, Piper Sandler commenced coverage on Constellation Brands, conferring an overweight rating equivalent to a buy and setting a price target of $300 per share, approximately a 12% premium compared to the current levels hovering around $266. The Piper analysts underscored distribution tailwinds and anticipated prolonged, sustainable U.S. share gains in beer, buoyed by advantageous demographic trends, particularly the growing Hispanic demographic in the U.S., which is anticipated to propel the success of Mexican beer imports, further benefiting Constellation Brands (STZ).

Jim Cramer is confident that given Constellation Brands' history of leading the industry with remarkable results in its beer business, it will continue to report strong numbers. However, there is a note of caution regarding its wine and spirits segment, which has historically been less impressive.

The Challenge of the Wine and Spirits Segment

During the company's Investor Day in November, management projected a 1% to 2% decrease in organic net sales for fiscal 2024 within the wine and spirits segment. A subsequent report, detailing the fiscal 2024 third-quarter results, revised this guidance to a more substantial 7% to 9% drop. CEO Bill Newlands attributed this downturn largely to a "broader marketplace deceleration," with particular emphasis on underperformance within wholesale channels.

Over recent years, Constellation has been striving to enhance sales in its wine and spirits division by transitioning from lower-priced brands to more premium offerings. Despite this effort, the company retains some mainstream wine and spirits names that remain under revitalization. Notwithstanding some success in upscale wines like Meiomi, Kim Crawford, and The Prisoner, Cramer and other market analysts remain skeptical about this segment of Constellation's business which includes High West bourbon and Svedka vodka.

A Potential Exit from Wine and Spirits and Hard Alcohol Concerns

Cramer has repeatedly voiced his hope to witness Constellation selling off its wine and spirits branch, stating, "They have to get out of the clears and the browns," referring to the variety of liquor products. This sentiment stems from the looming overhang of GLP-1 weight loss drugs, which could pose a more significant threat to hard alcohol than beer in terms of competition.

Yet, there is some reassurance derived from the presence of the activist investor group Elliott Investment Management, which is expected to maintain vigilance over management's decisions relating to capital allocation and investment strategies. Elliott, holding a significant stake in Constellation Brands, has agreed to cooperate with the company's management, fostering accountability.

Investor Engagement and Activist Influence

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Forward-Looking Perspectives and Market Positioning

Looking ahead, Constellation Brands seems well-positioned for potential market gains. With its premier portfolio of Mexican beers resonating strongly with demographic shifts and market trends, the company appears ready to leverage these advantages. Furthermore, the strategic shelf space expansion and enhanced distribution are poised to create a favorable environment for increased sales and market presence.

With analyst endorsements, such as the one from Piper Sandler, and an activist investor presence ensuring management accountability, Constellation Brands is situated favorably at the crossroads of market opportunities and strategic business decisions. Whether the company will indeed meet expectations and sustain its growth trajectory remains a focal point for investors and market watchers alike.

In Conclusion

As next week's earnings report draws near, the market's gaze will intensively focus on Constellation Brands, especially regarding its powerhouse beer segment. Although challenges persist within the wine and spirits division, the overall picture seems optimistic. A combination of strategic brand positioning, demographic advantages, and targeted market strategies could very well cement Constellation Brands' place as a market leader in the beverage sector.

With all eyes on the fiscal outcomes and the potential shifts in the competitive landscape, Constellation Brands will be a company to watch as the fiscal year progresses. The culmination of these factors—market share gains, a stronghold in the beer industry, and strategic moves across segments—may very well set the stage for Constellation Brands to break new ground and reach unprecedented heights in its business growth.

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In summary, while uncertainties and challenges lay ahead, Constellation Brands' robust portfolio, strategic market insights, and potential for significant breakthrough in the beer industry create a compelling case for optimism within the investor community. The upcoming period will be telling for how these factors coalesce, shaping the company's market path and potentially elevating its status to new market peaks.