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Constellation Brands to grow Corona as Mexican beer surges in popularity

  • Constellation Brands will debut Corona Premier nationwide in February. It will also release Corona Familiar in all major Hispanic markets, a key demographic for the brand.
  • In the second quarter, Constellation's beer sales grew nearly 13 percent from the same time last year.
  • Constellation's stock has gained about 36 percent this year.
Corona Premier
Source: Trinity Brand Group
Corona Premier

The Corona family is growing.

Riding a surge of interest in Mexican beer, Constellation Brands will debut Corona Premier nationwide in February. It will also release Corona Familiar in all major Hispanic markets, a key demographic for the brand.

Constellation conducted a "successful" test of Premier before deciding to make it available nationwide. The company said the brew is aimed at a mature, sophisticated consumer looking to trade up from light beer.

Premier contains 90 calories. In comparison, Extra contains 149 calories and Light contains 99.

"Corona Premier capitalizes on industry and consumer trends including declines of domestic light beers, growth of high end and interest in new light beers that are premium and have badge value," a spokeswoman said in an email.

Corona and Modelo's popularity has helped Constellation's sales surge. In the second quarter, which includes the all-important summer months, Constellation's beer sales grew nearly 13 percent from the same time last year.

Robert Sands, CEO, Constellation Brands
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Robert Sands, CEO, Constellation Brands

The company beat Wall Street's profit expectations for the ninth straight quarter, thanks to higher margins. On Thursday, it also boosted its full-year earnings forecast to between $8.25 and $8.40 per share from $7.90 and $8.10 per share.

Constellation's stock has skyrocketed about 36 percent this year. It gained 4 percent on Thursday.

Constellation's growth comes as some big brewers' sales have struggled thanks to consumers' thirst turning toward craft beer. On a call with investors, CEO Rob Sands credited Constellation for driving growth in U.S. beer imports.

"So it's a little bit of a misnomer to think that the growth in the beer category, to the extent that there is any, is coming from [total] imports. It is not. It is coming from Constellation's portfolio of Mexican beers. And then there is also growth coming from the craft segment, and that's about it," Sands said.

During the quarter, Constellation boosted TV and digital advertising for Corona Extra, Sands said. Corona Extra was the official beer sponsor for the much-hyped Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight.

Constellation also launched a limited-edition can packaging, which the CEO said helped grow Corona's can format more than 20 percent.

Sands said the company's beer portfolio is well-positioned for the second half of the year. Aside from Corona, Constellation's beers include brands such as Modelo, Pacifico and Funky Buddha, a craft beer it acquired last month.

The holidays present a big opportunity for the alcohol industry. Constellation's portfolio includes wine and spirits brands such as Black Box, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi and Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines, and SVEDKA.

WATCH: Constellation Brands CEO on consumer trends