Molson Coors Expects Beer Sales To Improve

BOSTON (AP) -- Shoppers are buying beer again and trading up to more expensive brands in the U.S., but they're still not buying like they used to, Molson Coors Brewing Co. said Wednesday.

Peter Swinburn, CEO of the maker of Coors Light and Blue Moon, said the company's sales in convenience stores and in the higher-priced light segment are showing initial signs of improvement.

People are more confident than they were at this time last year but the return is gradual, he told investors at the Barclays Capital Back to School conference in Boston.

"People still are not overconfident," he said. "People have come back into the market definitely, and people have also been trading up."

The Denver-based company's less expensive brands have not been performing as well as a result, but Miller Lite, which has been hurting for a while, is seeing improvements because the company has invested in packaging and marketing.

"It is encouraging inasmuch as it's going in the right direction, but it is slow and gradual," he said.

In Britain, where the company makes market leader Carling, conditions are also improving slowly but "it's going to be a slog," he said. The company there has chosen not to cut prices. Swinburne said volume is returning a bit.

Shares of Molson Coors rose 41 cents to $44.79 in afternoon trading Wednesday.

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