Molson Coors Brewing (TAP) revealed a 65% decline in fourth-quarter earnings Thursday on higher taxes and weakened demand in the U.S. and Canada. However, it managed to trump Wall Street expectations as volumes climbed 15%.

The Denver, Colo.-based brewer posted after-tax net income of $60.1 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $172.4 million, or 95 cents.

Excluding one-time items, Molson Coors said it earned 69 cents, topping average analyst estimates of 64 cents in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Revenue for the three-month period climbed 9.9% to $1.03 billion, led by a 15.3% increase to 14.1 million hectoliters in worldwide beer volume thanks in large part to the addition of Molson Coors Central Europe operations in 2012.

The sales performance, however, fell narrowly short of the Street’s view of $1.07 billion, a reflection of weakness in North America. 

“Underlying after-tax income declined 28%, driven by a higher tax rate this year and cycling strong quarterly results the year before,” said Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn.

Molson Coors acquired StarBev and its nine breweries in Central and Eastern Europe in April 2012 for $3.5 billion in an effort to enhance its portfolio. It said Thursday the two have started implementing plans to capture synergies and pay down debt.

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