UBS Warburg upgraded Constellation Brands (STZ) to strong buy from buy.
Analyst Caroline Levy says her upgrade is based on valuation and strong first quarter earnings per share. She says first quarter operating profit rose 23% vs. her 7% forecast on strength in high margin businesses, and a hike in Corona prices. She believes the company has superior growth prospects and a diversified business model. She expects the company's base business to deliver 6% sales growth, 10% operating profit growth, and 15% or better EPS growth over the long term. He raised his $2.02 fiscal 2003 (Feb.) EPS estimate to $2.05, and upped the $2.23 fiscal 2004 estimate to $2.35. Levy maintains her $35 12-month target.