Sales Up, Profits Down for Coors

Molson Coors still recouping from merger costs

Molson Coors Brewing Co. reported an unexpected loss for its first quarter of 2006.

Higher sales volume for the period couldn’t counteract higher costs in areas such as its United Kingdom operations and energy expenses, as well as continuing merger costs.

The company, which has headquarters in Denver and Montreal, posted a loss of $30.2 million, or 35 cents a share, for the period ended March 26. That compares to a loss of $34.2 million, or 54 cents a share, for 2005’s first quarter.

Net sales for this year’s initial period increased to $1.15 billion from $1.05 billion a year earlier.

Molson Coors was created in February 2005, with the merger of Adolph Coors Co. and Canada’s Molson Inc.

“… Our earnings were negatively affected by a very difficult operating environment in the U.K., temporarily high corporate overhead expenses, and higher commodity and energy inflation costs across our system, which had a disproportionate impact because of the first quarter is seasonally our smallest profit quarter,” Molson Coors President/CEO Leo Kiely said in a statement.

Kiely also touted his company’s positive sales volume, brand strength and “positive momentum of our core brands” as the company heads into its all-important summer selling season.

Sales by volume rose to 8,619,000 barrels for the period, from 7,710,000 for last year’s first quarter. Molson Coors sold most of that beer — 4,958,000 barrels — in the United States. Those sales were driven by double-digit growth of its Blue Moon label, as well as single-digit growth in sales of Coors Light and Keystone Light.