Molson Coors 4Q net declines as it sells less beer

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Molson Coors Brewing Co.’s net income fell 51 percent in the fourth quarter as it sold less beer and dealt with rising costs for taxes, ingredients and fuel.
The Denver-based brewer reported Thursday that it earned $109.8 million, or 58 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 25. That’s down from $222.1 million, or $1.19 per share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings amounted to 66 cents a share.
Last year’s quarter was boosted by an unusually high tax rate, the company said.
Revenue excluding excise taxes rose 1.7 percent to $835.1 million because of higher prices.
The results fell short of analysts’ forecasts. They were looking for earnings of 69 cents per share on revenue of $837.4 million.
The Denver company raised prices in the downturn to protect profit margins, even if the amount of beer sold suffered as a result. Before the fourth quarter, cost-cutting had been helping its profits rise.
Molson Coors says it sold 1.9 percent less beer globally. The United Kingdom was particularly weak, with beer sold falling 4.9 percent.
To offset weakness in more established markets, Molson Coors is increasingly trying to expand in emerging markets such as China. The aim is to woo new drinkers to its Coors Light brand. The unit that includes sales outside the U.S., Canada and Britain saw volume rise 55 percent, though it is a still a tiny portion of Molson Coors’ business.
Molson’s U.S. joint venture with SABMiller, Miller Coors, performed better. The venture’s net income rose 41 percent to $144.2 million as costs fell and prices for beer rose.