Molson Coors' 1Q Profit Up 38 Percent

DENVER (AP) -- Molson Coors Brewing Co.'s first-quarter profit climbed 38 percent on a tax-related gain, but higher costs and fewer beer purchases by consumers caused adjusted results to miss Wall Street's expectations.

Molson Coors said Tuesday that it sold 3.8 percent less beer worldwide. It blamed the decline on high unemployment and a slow recovery in consumer confidence.

Consumers have gone out to bars and restaurants less frequently during the economic downturn in an attempt to save money, pressuring the sales of drinks makers. Several brewers have also raised prices.

Molson Coors earned $104.6 million, or 56 cents per share, for the three months ended March 27. That's up from $75.7 million, or 41 cents per share, during the same period a year earlier.

But the brewer's profit was 37 cents per share when removing costs related to the settlement of Brazilian indemnity liabilities. That missed the 45 cents-per-share estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. These estimates normally exclude one-time items.

Molson Coors also struggled with rising costs, with marketing, general and administrative expenses increasing to $237.5 million from $182.6 million. Cost of goods sold rose to $404.4 million from $346.1 million.

Revenue climbed 15 percent to $947 million from $824.2 million. Taking out excise taxes, revenue rose to $661 million from $559 million.

Wall Street expected $636.7 million.

In Canada, sales to retailers increased 5 percent, helped by a mid single-digit rise in Coors Light and Molson Canadian, coupled with increases in Molson Dry and Rickard's. Canadian sales volume rose 3.3 percent.

In the U.K., brands Molson Coors owns saw volume fell 10.9 percent, but revenue from owned products increased 21 percent in local currency because of higher prices.

Molson Coors, which is based in Denver, has been holding firm on some pricing despite soft economic conditions. This is true in Britain, where the company is looking to make more money on what it does sell.

Earlier in the day MillerCoors, a joint venture made up of the U.S. businesses of Molson Coors Brewing Co. and SABMiller PLC, reported its first-quarter profit rose slightly on cost-cutting and higher prices even as sales of some brands slipped. The company makes Miller Genuine Draft and Blue Moon and other beverages.

More in Supply Chain