• Lower tax rate in '09 gives Molson Coors challenging comparable
  • Sales up in 2010 by 7.3%, but volumes slip
  • Net profits down by 5.7%
Its been a taxing year for Molson Coors, profit-wise

It's been a taxing year for Molson Coors, profit-wise

Molson Coors has posted a rise in full-year sales in 2010, although both volumes and net profits came in below their 2009 comparables.

The North American brewer said today that sales in the 12 months to the end of December hit US$3.25bn, an increase of 7.3% year-on-year. Net profits were hit by “an unusually low tax rate in 2009” compared to 2010, resulting in a fall of 5.7% in the year, to $666.9m. Volumes slid last year by 2.6% to 48.7m hectolitres.

The lower tax rate of a year earlier made its presence felt particularly badly in Q4, with the company seeing net profits come in 35% down on the same period in 2009, at $123.6m. Sales slipped much less markedly in the three months, by 1.7% to $835.1m, with volumes similarly down, by 1.9% to 11.9m hectolitres.

In the US, the company credited “positive pricing, favourable brand mix, and continued strong cost management” for contributing to a 38% rise in Q4 net profits for its MillerCoors joint-venture. Domestic sales-to-wholesalers were down by 2.2% in the quarter, with net sales holding steady, up by 0.4%.

Molson Coors' president and CEO, Peter Swinburn, highlighted ongoing challenges for the company in the shape of “weak industry volume in our three largest markets, along with fuel and commodity inflation across our businesses”.

“2010 was a year of good progress in building our brands, innovating, reducing costs, strengthening our balance sheet, and generating cash,” Swinburn said. “We achieved solid growth in pretax income and free cash flow, despite continued input cost inflation and weak industry volume.”

To read the official statement, click here.