November 4, 2009 / 1:57 PM / in 9 years

CORRECTED - UPDATE 2-Molson Coors profit tops view, volume slips

(Corrects Molson’s ranking to fifth-largest brewer, not third-largest, paragraph 5)

* Q3 adjusted EPS $1.14 vs analysts’ view $0.98

* Beer volume down 2.9 pct

* Worldwide Coors Light volumes down slightly

* Shares fall 3 percent (Recasts, adds details on quarterly performance, competitors)

CHICAGO, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Molson Coors Brewing Co (TAP.N) reported a bigger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit, helped by cost cuts and price increases, but volumes fell as the beer industry sees a slowdown in consumer spending.

The results echoed reports by MillerCoors, Molson’s U.S. joint venture with SABMiller Plc SAB.L, and by Carlsberg (CARLb.CO), the fourth-biggest brewer. Shares of Molson Coors fell 3 percent.

Carlsberg beat analysts’ profit expectations on Wednesday but trimmed its 2009 sales outlook and forecast an “equally challenging” 2010, and its shares fell 5.4 percent [ID:nL4540540].

Like all discretionary consumer products, sales of beer have been impacted by the slowdown in consumer spending. However, its relatively low price has made it more resilient than other products.

The world’s fifth-largest brewer has been promoting its brands, such as Coors Light and Molson Canadian, raising prices and keeping a tight lid on costs to offset a dip in volume and unfavorable foreign currency fluctuations.

Molson Coors plans spend more to promote its beers in its Canadian, U.S. and international businesses in the current fourth quarter, President and Chief Executive Peter Swinburn said in a statement.

The brewer, whose other beers include Blue Moon, earned $235.3 million, or $1.26 per share, in the third quarter that ended Sept. 26, up from $171.3 million, or 92 cents per share, a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings per share of $1.14 topped analysts’ average forecast of 98 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

At Molson Coors, sales excluding excise taxes fell 7.3 percent to $853.7 million, ahead of analysts’ forecast of $837 million. Total worldwide beer volume declined 2.9 percent.

Sales of Coors Light, by volume, fell slightly after the brand saw strong growth a year earlier.

Overall, volume dipped in Canada, the MillerCoors business in the United States and in Britain. The small international markets segment saw volume jump 27.7 percent, driven by Coors Light in China and Carling in Europe.

Earlier on Wednesday, MillerCoors reported a 28.1 percent increase in net income, as cost savings and price increases offset a dip in sales volume. The U.S. venture said domestic sales to wholesalers slipped 0.7 percent. Sales from wholesalers to retailers — a better gauge of consumer demand — fell 1.3 percent. [ID:nL3640079]

The MillerCoors venture blamed a low single-digit decline in sales volume of its premium light beers, including Miller Lite and Coors Light, and a double-digit decline of its higher-end brands, which include Miller Chill and Killian’s Irish Red.

MillerCoors’ least expensive beers, including Keystone Light and Miller High Life, saw a low single-digit increase in sales. Molson Coors has a 42 percent stake in MillerCoors. (Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago, with additional reporting by Martinne Geller in New York and David Jones in London, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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