Molson Coors sales miss on weaker Canada

Tue May 8, 2012 12:43pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Molson Coors Brewing Co (TAP.N: Quote) reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales on Tuesday, hurt by losing some market share in Canada, helping to send the beer maker's shares down more than 3 percent.

Unlike larger rivals Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR: Quote) and SABMiller Plc SAB.L, Molson's business is concentrated in Canada, Britain and the United States, so weakness in one of those markets can cause worry.

The maker of Molson Canadian, Coors Light and Blue Moon beers lost half a point of market share in Canada in the quarter, as its sales to retailers fell 0.5 percent amid industry growth of 1.3 percent.

Still, the company's earnings topped Wall Street estimates, helped by a better-than-expected gross margin at its MillerCoors joint venture with SABMiller Plc SAB.L.

"We come away seeing incrementally positive margin news but with added concerns about the company's share trajectory in Canada and the U.S., its two largest markets," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Mark Swartzberg.

Molson said net income was $79.4 million, or 44 cents a share in the first quarter, down from $82.6 million, or 44 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 47 cents a share, beating analysts' average estimate of 42 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 0.1 percent to $691.4 million, while analysts expected $703.8 million.

Molson sold 9.9 million hectoliters of beer in the quarter, a decrease of 0.4 percent. A hectoliter is a metric unit of volume equal to 100 liters.   Continued...

 
Cans of Molson beer are seen at a news conference in Montreal, March 19, 2012. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi