The maker of Corona beer made an early bet on cannabis — and it's already made more than $1 billion (STZ, CGC)

Canopy Growth shares have climbed more than 285% since November, when Constellation first announced an investment into the company.

A budtender weighs out marijuana for a customers at ShowGrow, a medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Los Angeles.
  • In its

Constellation Brand’s investment in the world’s largest publicly traded marijuana companies is already paying off.

In its earnings report Thursday morning, the company behind Corona beer, Svedka vodka, and other alcoholic beverages said its twoinvestments into Canopy Growth Corporation has already netted it more than $1 billion in unrealized gains thanks to the marijuana producers surging stock.

"Reported basis results reflect $639 million unrealized gain for an increase in fair value of the initial investment in Canopy Growth Corporation; $1.3 billion unrealized gain has been recognized since investment in November 2017," Constellation Brands said in its earnings release.

Canopy Growth shares have climbed more than 285% since November, when Constellation first announced an investment into the company. It followed up its initial stake with plans to invest $4 billion more by the end of the this month.

On a conference call with Wall Street analysts and reporters on Thursday, CEO Rob Sands re-iterated that the investment in Canopy Growth is an offensive move to innovate in a rapidly changing space, as opposed to a defensive move.

"We're not a company that's sitting around waiting for some element of our business to turn down or get bad before we take action," he said. "We’re the opposite of that. When it turns bad, turning something around is 900 times harder than it is to play offense from an already very strong position."

When all is said and done, Constellation will own roughly 38% of Canopy Growth, and has warrants available to increase that to a majority stake. Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth's chief executive, explained to Business Insider in July why alcohol brands and cannabis companies were a perfect match.

"We believe people should have a choice in how they wish to improve or alter their socialization," he said.

"Why are you having a beverage on a Friday night? It's about a social lubricant. I think [Constellation] didn't view themselves as a beverage company so much as an entity that provides those occasions with some kind of lift if you will — and that's an easy way to look at cannabis, not as a threat, but as an alternative or additional."

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