Hurt by inflation and lower worldwide beer demand, Molson Coors Brewing (NYSE:TAP) halved its fourth-quarter profit, though its sales still edged higher on improved U.S. and Canadian demand.
The Denver-based company posted net income of $111.3 million, or 59 cents a share, compared with $218.2 million, or $1.17, in the same quarter last year.
Excluding one-time items, particularly related to taxes, the company earned 66 cents a share, falling short of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 69 cents a share. The tax rate in the year-earlier period was unusually low.
Revenue for the beer maker, operating under brands such as Coors Light, Molson Canadian and Carling, was $835.1 million, up 1.7% from $820.8 million a year ago, missing the Street’s view of $840.14 million.
Molson CEO Peter Swinburn, attributed the weaker earnings to soft industry volume in its three largest markets, along with fuel and commodity inflation. Worldwide beer volume slipped 1.9% during the quarter, led by a 26.9% pretax income decline in the U.K., partially offset by gains in the U.S. and Canada.
Despite the challenges though, the chief executive said the company made good progress in building its brands, innovating and reducing costs.
“We achieved solid growth in pretax income and free cash flow, despite continued input cost inflation and weak industry volume,” he said.