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Constellation Brands CEO 'extremely optimistic' about 2017 despite border tax worries

Elizabeth Gurdus

Constellation Brands' (NYSE: STZ) stock is flying, and CEO Robert Sands said he is "extremely optimistic" about the company's 2017 prospects despite Wall Street's nail-biting about a potential tax on U.S. imports.

"We're not going to sit around and worry too much or try to base our decision[-making] on the probability of this occurring," Sands told " Mad Money " host Jim Cramer on Thursday.

And while the company has planned for whatever happens with the border tax, Sands has higher priorities as the CEO of the fastest-growing consumer packaged goods company in the United States.

Sands said the decision to use temporary fourth-quarter weakness as an opening to buy back over 1 billion shares of Constellation's stock, which hit an all-time high Thursday, was strategic.

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"We bought back [1.1 billion] of our own stock at average price of about $151 and here we sit today at the moment at $171, so it's looking like a good decision," Sands said.

Constellation is no stranger to strategy. The impressive growth trajectory of one of the company's Mexican beer brands, Pacifico, could make it Constellation's next big hit, Sands said.

"All of a sudden, the growth on Pacifico has jumped up to high-double-digit growth, I think 20 percent in the fourth quarter, and we don't really see any end to it," Sands said. "We really do think that Pacifico is going to come right on the heels of Corona and then Modelo Especial as the most popular imports in the United States."

The CEO also credited the company's strong portfolio of brands for its success.

"Our whole strategy is about lining up high-margin growth driver behind growth driver, whether it's in wine, beer, [or] spirits, and that's why we acquired brands like Meiomi and High West in addition to the rest of our great portfolio," Sands told Cramer.

And with the economy seemingly improving and the odds of a border tax slowly diminishing, Sands sees full growth ahead for a number of Constellation's booming categories.

"Craft beer continues to be one of the fastest-growing categories in beverage alcohol, and tequila, and, obviously, rye and bourbon," Sands said. "The brown spirits, American whiskies, are also the strongest categories in the beverage alcohol business, so we're incredibly well-positioned in those categories and able to take full advantage of the growth in those categories."

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