Molson says beer sales are sluggish

Molson says beer sales are sluggish

Multinational brewer Molson Coors has reported a leap in full-year profits, but the group reported a fall in sales and warned that sluggish demand for beer across its markets is likely to continue.

A one-time tax gain helped net profits for the 52 weeks to the 26 December rise by to US$720m, against $378.7m in a prior year hit by one-off charges, Molson Coors said today (9 February). Underlying income still rose by 41%.

But, the Canada-based brewer reported net sales of $3bn, down from $4.7bn in 2008. Volume sales fell by 3% for the year.

"Behind the headline number, our results were affected by weak volumes across all markets, cost inflation in the US and UK and brand investments in Canada," said Peter Swinburn, Molson Coors president and chief executive officer.

"Overall consumer demand remains sluggish, and we see these conditions continuing to impact volume and mix in the near term," he said, adding that Molson retains a strong balance sheet. 

For the fourth quarter, underlying after-tax profits leapt by 86% to $190m. However, pre-tax profits fell by 6% for the three month period, which also saw beer volume sales fall by 4%.

Despite this, fourth quarter sales rose to $821m, from $739m in the same period of 2008.

Molson Coors joint venture with SABMiller in the US, MillerCoors, today reported full-year sales and profits growth.

Molson's share price fell 3% on the New York Stock Exchange in morning trading.

For the full announcement, click here.

An update, following the group's conference call, appears here.