Molson Coors has seen first-half profits leap on the back of tax reductions and rising second-quarter volumes in Canada and the US.

The brewer, the world's fifth-largest, today (1 August) reported a 38% leap in operating income to US$200.4m for the first six months of the year. Net sales rose by 5% to US$2.7bn.

A fall in corporate tax in Canada during the second quarter and a reduction in a number of provincial taxes boosted the results, Molson Coors said.

Beer volumes in Canada inched up 1.6% during the second quarter thanks to "strong double-digit growth" in the brewer's Coors Light and Rickard's brands.

However, "intense competitive pricing pressure in key provinces" hit sales of some of Molson Coors' premium and discount brands, the brewer said.

Coors Light also drove an increase in volumes in the US, alongside a "high single-digit" increase in sales of Keystone Light and a "strong double-digit" climb in sales of Blue Moon. In all, US volumes were up 1.5% during the second quarter.

However, pre-tax profits from the company's US operations slumped 20.6% due to higher transport and energy costs.

Nevertheless, the football World Cup gave a boost to the brewer's sales in Europe with volumes up 5.1% during the second quarter, led by rising sales of the Carling brand.

Leo Kiely, Molson Coors president and CEO, argued that the results showed that the brewer was making "solid, steady progress strengthening the fundamentals" of the company.

He said: "We grew sales volume in all three of our businesses, led by the strength of our strategic brands - the ones that receive the most investment - that are the future growth engines of our company."

Kiely added that Molson Coors was "on-track with two major US cost reduction initiatives", the closure of the company's Memphis site in early September and the completion its new brewery in Virginia, slated for early next year.