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File photo of Molson Coors products. (Ed Andrieski/AP)
File photo of Molson Coors products. (Ed Andrieski/AP)

Molson Coors beats expectations as profit surges Add to ...

Molson Coors Brewing Co. handily beat expectations as its first-quarter profit surged to US$163.4-million from US$28.5-million a year ago on improved performances in Canada and Europe and a tax benefit.

The Denver and Montreal-based company, which reports in U.S. dollars, earned 88 cents per diluted share for the period ended March 31, compared with 16 cents per share a year earlier.

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Adjusting for one-time items, underlying income more than doubled to $102.2-million or 55 cents per share, compared with $47.5-million or 26 cents per share in the 2013 quarter.

Net sales decreased 1.5 per cent to $816-million, but was up 0.3 per cent excluding currency fluctuations. Worldwide beer volume decreased slightly to 11.9 million hectolitres.

Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP, TSX:TPX.B) was expected to earn 35 cents per share in adjusted profits on $818.4-million of net sales, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

In Canada, the company earned $88.3-million in pre-tax income on $347.1-million of net sales despite weak consumer demand and promotional challenges. That was up from $28.4-million on $395.6-million in the prior year. Underlying pre-tax income increased 20.5 per cent to $35.3-million, while the lower Canadian dollar reduced profits by $2.4-million.

Sales to retail decreased 5.7 per cent due to a variety of factors, including weaker consumer demand, promotional challenges and the loss of the Modelo brands. Excluding this brand loss, Molson Coors said its Canadian market share decreased 0.5 per cent.

In the United States, its stake in MillerCoors generated underlying earnings before interest and taxes of $123.1-million, up 4.9 per cent from the prior year. European adjusted profits increased to $16.2-million from a $5.3-million loss last year.

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