Shutterstock

Constellation Brands (STZ - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings Friday and boosted its full-year profit outlook as the Corona beer maker continues to reap the rewards of selling its low-end wine brand portfolio for around $1.7 billion earlier this year.

Constellation said comparable earnings for the three months ended in May, the group's fiscal first quarter, came in at $2.21 per share, up modestly from the same period last year but firmly ahead of the Street consensus of $2.07 per share. Group revenues, Constellation said, rose 2% to $2.097 billion and also topped analysts' estimates of a $2.07 billion tally.

Looking into its 2020 fiscal year, which ends in February, Constellation said it sees full-year earnings of between $8.65 and $9.95 per share, up from a prior forecast of $8.47 to $8.77 per share, while confirming its forecast for beer business growth of between 7% and 9%. The group also boosted its operating cash flow target to $2.1 billion and its free cash flow projection to between $1.2 billion and $13 billion.

"I'm pleased with our strong start to the year," said CEO Bill Newlands. "Our wine and spirits transformation strategy is working, led by our collection of Power Brands, which delivered industry-leading depletion growth of 4% during the quarter."

"In addition, our iconic beer portfolio continues to be a cornerstone of growth in the U.S. beer industry, driven by double-digit depletion growth for Modelo Especial and Corona Premier," he added. "W believe these brands, along with our innovation initiatives, will drive our targeted goals for the year."

Constellation shares were rising 3.55% to $194.90

Earlier this spring, 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 at the time. "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."

Can You Name the Companies Behind These Clever Stock Tickers?