Alcoholic beverage titan Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ) trounced the market last year, with shares surging 49% compared to the 19% increase in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
The rally continued a long-running winning streak for shareholders, who have seen their investment rise by over 500% since early 2013.
Constellation Brands' portfolio of premium imported beers allowed it to steal market share from established beer giants and from craft breweries throughout the year. Specifically, the popularity of the Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico franchises led to 10% sales growth at a time when most of its rivals had to settle for flat or slightly lower revenue.
The company also benefited from rising prices, and so profitability set a new high even as sales marched upward.
Constellation Brands is pouring a big portion of its recent profits right back into its next phase of growth. Management recently took an equity position in one of the world's biggest cannabis producers so that it can be among the first companies to market beverages based on the substance as its legality spreads to more countries around the world.
Meanwhile, it is nearly done putting $4 billion into its Mexican brewery infrastructure in a move that -- assuming imported beer demand trends stay healthy -- should power higher long-term profits as production costs decline in 2019.
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