Shares in Constellation fell yesterday as the group said next year's earnings would not meet analysts' targets. The company said on Tuesday that, for fiscal 2005, which ends 28 February 2005, it expects to earn between $2.43 and $2.53 per share.

Excluding charges of around $0.12 per share related to restructuring and other on-off items, Constellation forecast a profit of between $2.55 and $2.65 per share.

Before the announcement, analyst forecasts for the company averaged $2.74 per share, with estimates ranging from $2.70 and $2.78. According to Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group, analysts now expect Constellation to earn between $2.55 and $2.78, with an average target of $2.65.

In a statement yesterday, chairman and CEO Richard Sands said: "In fiscal year 2005, we expect strong operating income and net income growth. However, our earnings per share growth will be below recent trends primarily due to the full year impact of additional shares outstanding from our July 2003 equity offering. We are also increasing our brand investment in fiscal year 2005 to aggressively drive the outstanding long-term growth opportunities we have in our imported beer and branded wine portfolios."

In addition to the restructuring and related charges discussed in prior quarters, Constellation said it expects to record additional restructuring and related charges of approximately US$8.0m in fiscal 2005 related to the further realignment of business operations within its wine division.

Shares in the group fell as low as $29.50 in early New York Stock Exchange trade following the announcement.