Boosted by a strong performance in its branded wines, UK wholesale division, spirits business and positive currency effects, the world's largest wine group Constellation Brands has reported record sales for the third quarter.

Net sales increased 10% to top US$1 billion for the second consecutive quarter. Currency contributed four percent of the increase.

"Constellation's beverage alcohol business growth continues to be dynamic, with growth coming from existing brands in our wine and spirits portfolios, as well as from new product introductions, line extensions and marketing initiatives," said Richard Sands, Constellation Brands chairman and chief executive officer.

"We're also experiencing healthy growth from the Australian and New Zealand wines, as well as from our wholesale business in the United Kingdom. We're confident in the sustainability of our business growth trend, as well as our ability to create incremental value for our shareholders, customers and retailers."
Constellation's net income increased 17% for the third quarter, to US$96.9m, and reported diluted earnings per share increased 14% to US$0.83.

Net sales at the group's wine division grew 14% to US$773.8m, driven by growth in branded wine net sales and the UK wholesale business, as well as a six percent favourable impact from currency.

Worldwide branded wine net sales increased 11%, to reach US$509.5m, driven by volume growth and a four percent benefit from currency.

Operating income for Constellation Wines for the third quarter increased 13% to reach US$127.7m. For the quarter, operating margins were essentially even with last year on a percentage basis.

Net sales for the quarter at the group's spirits and beer business totalled US$311.9m, which was up 2% compared to last year's result. Beers net sales decreased 2% due to a reduction in volume driven primarily by last year's buy-in ahead of the Mexican portfolio price increase.

Spirits net sales increased 11% on strong growth in production services, bulk sales in the Canadian operations and continued growth in the branded business.