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Constellation Brands (STZ - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Thursday after selling its low-end wine brand portfolio for around $1.7 billion.

Constellation said comparable earnings for the three months ending in February, the company's fiscal fourth quarter, came in at $1.84 per share, down 3.15% from the same period last year but firmly ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $1.72 per share. Group sales, Constellation said, rose 2% to $1.797 billion, again beating analysts' forecasts of $1.73 billion.

Looking into the 2020 fiscal year, Constellation said its sees comparable earnings in the region of $8.50 to $8.80 per share, with operating income from its beer division rising between 7% and 9%. Wine and Spirits, however, will likely see net sales declines of around 25% to 30% with a larger decline in operating income of between 30% and 35%, Constellation said. 

"We've positioned our wine and spirits business for success with our announced plans to sell a portion of the business, which enables us to continue to strategically focus on our powerhouse, high-margin, high-growth brands," said CEO Bill Newlands. "During fiscal 2019, our beer business delivered industry-leading double-digit sales and operating income growth led by our powerful, high-end brands and successful consumer-led innovation."

"Overall, we're confident in our ability to drive top line growth of mid-to-high single digits
over the next three to five years across our entire business," he added.

Constellation shares were rising 5.8% to $190.16 in trading Thursday.

Late Wednesday, Constellation said it would sell a portfolio of 30 lower-priced wine and spirit brands to E. & J. Gallo Winery for around $1.7 billion as it continues to shift towards higher-end labels and cannabis-infused products. 

"This decision will help enhance organizational focus on a more premium set of wine and spirits brands that better position our company to drive accelerated growth and shareholder value," Newlands said. "In turn, Gallo is acquiring a collection of great brands that complement their operational model and business strategy to provide quality products to consumers at every price point."