Constellation Brands ( STZ) missed third-quarter earnings targets and trimmed full-year guidance, citing hefty competition in the U.K. wine market.

The Fairport, N.Y., liquor company made $108 million, or 45 cents a share, for the quarter ended Nov. 30, down from the year-ago $109 million, or 46 cents a share. Excluding certain items, latest-quarter earnings were 58 cents a share, 2 cents shy of Thomson Financial analysts' consensus estimate.

Sales rose to $1.5 billion from $1.27 billion a year earlier, in line with the Wall Street estimate.

"Strong imported beer performance, growth from branded wine in North America, and the addition of Vincor generated solid results for the quarter," said CEO Richard Sands. "We continue to be very optimistic about our portfolio's long-term growth potential, although our third-quarter results reflect ongoing softness in our U.K. branded wine business as very challenging market conditions persist."

Net sales of branded wine for North America rose 29% due to the Vincor acquisition and 4% growth in the base business. But net sales of branded wine for Europe fell 3% on a constant currency basis, reflecting a 16% constant-currency decline in the base business.

The decrease in Europe was primarily in the U.K., reflecting lower volumes and the impact of the large retailers benefiting from a highly competitive environment, particularly given the availability of low-cost bulk Australian wine. Additionally, competitive conditions have not allowed the annual U.K. duty increase to be passed on to retailers. The company believes this situation is unlikely to change in the near term, and Constellation continues to focus on increasing its operating efficiencies in this intensely competitive market. The company said it is "evaluating strategic options to address challenges in the U.K. market and strengthen our long-term position."

The company cut its full-year earnings outlook to $1.65-$1.70 a share from the previous $1.72-$1.76, reflecting weakness in the U.K.

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