The US number three brewer Adolph Coors Co has reported a 48% increase in its first-quarter net income as sales jumped 36%.  The results come on the back of recent European acquisitions, which helped cover US volume growth that fell below the company's hopes.

The company's European operations, which were bolstered by the recent acquisition of the Carling Brewers business from Interbrew, added US$13m in pretax income in the first quarter. Results also included a pretax $2.9 million charge related to the integration of the Carling business.

However, chief executive W. Leo Kiely said in a conference call: "We did achieve strong percentage growth in earnings, but we didn't achieve our volume growth targets in the quarter."

Peter H. Coors, chairman of Coors Brewing Company (CBC), said: "The first quarter of 2002 was the first reporting period for our company that included results from our new business in the United Kingdom, CBL, which makes up nearly all of our new Europe segment. This business performed well and contributed to strong consolidated results for the quarter. The brands we acquired with the CBL business achieved mid-single-digit growth in volume.

He continued: "The Carling brand led the way with strong growth, driven by an improving economic climate and a shift in the Easter holiday into the first quarter this year, versus the second quarter last year. Solid operating results for the Europe segment were also boosted by good cost control and the timing of the acquisition, since our reported first quarter results for the U.K. business were improved by the exclusion of the month of January -- a month in which this business usually loses money. As a result, reported pretax income for CBL was more than twice its normal level for a full first quarter. Our Americas segment generated significant profit growth, despite only slight growth in volume."

For the 13-week quarter ended March 31, 2002, the company achieved consolidated net sales of US$739.3m. First quarter 2002 sales volume totalled 6,410,000 barrels.
Excluding special items, the company achieved consolidated 2002 first quarter after-tax income of US$28.9m, a 57.9% increase from US$18.3m in the first quarter of 2001. First quarter 2002 diluted earnings per share were $0.80, growing 63.3% from $0.49 per diluted share last year, excluding special items.