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Conventional wisdown suggests that in good times people drink and in bad times people drink more. Should you buy the liquor company stocks to defend your portfolio from the credit crunch and slowing economy?

Constellation Brands CEO Robert Sands joins the panel for this conversation. Following is a summary of his main points.

Defensive Plays: Alcohol Stocks

Your stock has lost value this year. What’s happening?

“I can’t explain the stock market’s treatment of anything this year,” replies Sands. “But our business is basically a non-cyclical business. People don’t drink less in recessionary environments. And frankly they don’t drink more either. So the market’s treatment of our stock, I can’t explain it.”

One of the anxieties has been about the merger integration going on in your business. How’s it going?

“Just a couple of months ago we announced the acquisition, of Fortune’s Wine business,” Sands explains. “We’ve closed the deal.”

Another knock on the stock is the amount of debt that Constellation is carrying. Any thoughts?

“With our recent acquisitions the amount of debt we’re carrying has increased,” replies Sands. “But the great thing about the beverage business is that it creates incredible cash flow. I think we’ll see those debt levels reduced (by next year) and I don’t think it’s something that should concern the market”.

Has the credit crunch been an issue for you?

“It’s had no impact on us at all, replies Sands. We’re the kind of credit they’re looking for.”

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