Constellation Brands Inc. said Thursday it is initiating the payment of a quarterly dividend. The alcoholic beverages company said it will pay 31 cents a share to holders of its class A stock and 28 cents a share to holders of its class B stock. The payments will be made on May 22 to shareholders of record as of close of business May 8. Constellation Brands has not paid a dividend since 1973, but Chief Finance Officer Bob Ryder said in January that returning cash to shareholders through a dividend was a top priority as the company reduces its debt levels, The Wall Street Journal has reported. "We are initially targeting a dividend payout ratio of 25% - 30% of our comparable basis net income," Chief Executive Bob Sands said in a statement. "Going forward, we will evaluate opportunities to increase our dividend based on the growth of our net income and free cash flow." Shares were not yet active in premarket trade but have gained 21.3% in the year so far, while the S&P 500 has gained 1.1%.
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