Constellation Brands Is Changing CEOs—but Not Its Marijuana Strategy

Constellation Brands (STZ), the alcoholic beverage seller that has enhanced its popularity among investors with its taste for cannabis, anointed its next chief executive Wednesday.

Come March 2019, said the company, President Bill Newlands will succeed Rob Sands as CEO. Wall Street analysts expect Newlands to continue pressing Sands’ bets on premium beers and marijuana, including the company’s $4 billion investment in cannabis producer Canopy Growth(CGC). Like the broader market, Constellation shares are off today, down 1% to $224, while Canopy stock is down 3%, to $49.

“The company will remain committed to the alcohol business,” wrote Cowen analyst Vivien Azer this morning, “while also being cognizant of the global cannabis opportunity.”


Rob Sands has had a successful run as chief of Constellation, a leading wine and spirits business that his father Marvin built from just a handful of employees starting in 1945. Older brother Richard preceded Rob as CEO and will hand Rob the board chairman seat in March. In his 11 years running Constellation, Rob shed some of the company’s cheap-wine brands and acquired the U.S. rights to distribute Corona and Modelo beer from the brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD).