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The Associated Press August 23, 2010, 11:30AM ET

Analyst: Constellation Brands gains market share

Constellation Brands Inc., the world's biggest winemaker, has reversed a streak of market share declines in the U.S. on changes in its distribution system and stands to gain more share as the changes take place, an analyst said Monday.

THE OPINION: Citi Investment Research analyst Vivien Azer told clients in a note that the company has lost market share in the U.S. wine market since April 2009, but the declines have lessened in the past few months. In the most recent four-week period, which ended Aug. 7, the company posted a gain of 0.2 points, taking its market share to 15.6 percent.

Constellation, based in Victor, N.Y., has more than 70 wine brands including Clos du Bois, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Blackstone and Ravenswood.

Azer said the improvement is due to focused sales teams, which will help the company's portfolio and other distribution changes.

The analyst said the category remains healthy so there is no concern about a drop in the market's potential. She also said the company's international business -- less than 5 percent of earnings before interest and taxes -- is a point of focus for the company.

THE STOCK: Shares fell 4 cents to $16.62 in late morning trading Monday. Azer reiterated her "Buy" rating and $21 target share price on the stock. Shares have traded in a range of $14.19 to $18.87 in the past 52 weeks.

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