Constellation Brands Inc posted a quarterly profit that just missed Wall Street estimates, as a 16 percent drop in wine sales in Europe during the holiday season offset a slight gain in North America, sending shares down 4 percent.

The company, which sells wine, beer and spirits, also gave a cautious outlook for the current year as the weak economy causes many consumers to seek out lower-priced alcohol brands.

On a net basis, the maker of Robert Mondavi, Ravenswood and Clos Du Bois wines said on Wednesday that its loss had narrowed to $406.8 million, or $1.88 per share, in the fourth quarter ended on February 28 from $834.8 million, or $3.91 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding $468 million in restructuring charges and other one-time items, Constellation said it had earned 21 cents per share, a penny shy of the analysts' average forecast of 22 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

The restructuring charges relate to a cost-cutting plan Constellation laid out last month, which includes closing certain facilities and eliminating 5 percent of its global workforce, or about 400 jobs.

Quarterly net sales fell 16.8 percent to $735.1 million, hurt by the divestitures of the Almaden, Inglenook and certain Pacific Northwest wine brands, as well as the strong U.S. dollar, which reduces the value of overseas sales.

Excluding the currency impact, net sales fell 3 percent.

In the company's wine business, its largest segment by far, sales fell 4 percent, excluding currency fluctuations, as declines of 16 percent in Europe and 4 percent in Australia and New Zealand offset a 1 percent increase in North America. The company cited increasingly challenging economic conditions, especially in the UK and Australia, as well as its decisions to raise prices and reduce the number of products it sells.

Spirits sales rose 6 percent, driven by the small Svedka vodka brand.

Constellation said sales at its Crown Imports joint venture with Grupo Modelo fell 6 percent, as consumers continue to buy less beer at bars, restaurants and convenience stores. But profit increased at the venture, which distributes Corona beer in the United States, due to cost cuts and the timing of certain expenses.

Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Greenberg said the company's quarterly sales were below his estimate. Greenberg lowered his price target by $1 to $14, but maintained his hold rating.

Key negatives are ongoing risk from declining wine sales, negative mix from trade-down and very low visibility into any improvement, Greenberg wrote in a research note.

Constellation said its restructuring moves should produce savings of about $25 million in the current year, fiscal 2010, and more than $50 million by the end of fiscal 2011. Yet it expects to incur one-time charges of about $112 million from the actions, including about $106 million this year.

Constellation forecast fiscal 2010 earnings of $1.60 to $1.70 per share, excluding items. Analysts on average were expecting $1.65, according to Reuters Estimates.

Constellation shares were down 48 cents, or 4.1 percent, at $11.16 on the New York Stock Exchange. Through Tuesday, the shares had lost nearly 25 percent of their value from January 7, when it reported third-quarter results. (Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Derek Caney and Lisa Von Ahn)