Despite sales volume declines at home and abroad, Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter said he was pleased with the company’s progress.
Speaking during a year-end earnings call in which the company reported depletion declines of 2.5 percent in the U.S. and 0.8 percent globally, Hunter touted the company’s efficiencies, realizing $165 million in cost savings last year out of an expected $550 million in savings to be achieved over the next three years.
(Editor’s note: The company reported its fourth quarter and full year 2016 consolidated and U.S. results on a pro-forma basis, treating them as if its $12 billion MillerCoors purchase had been completed at the beginning of 2015.)
On the year, MillerCoors’ domestic sales-to-wholesalers volume declined 1.3 percent (0.9 percent for the quarter). However, the company saw a 1.3 percent increase in domestic net revenue per hectoliter, excluding contract brewing and company-owned distributor sales, which it attributed to favorable pricing and sales mix.
Lower volumes in the economy and premium light beer segments contributed to a 2.5 percent decline in depletions for the fiscal year and a 2.8 percent decline for the trading-day-adjusted quarter, the company said.
The company’s largest brand, Coors Light, experienced a 1.9 percent decrease in worldwide volumes for the quarter and 0.2 percent for the year. Hunter told analysts that although Coors Light’s volumes were lower in the U.S. and Canada, the brand managed to gain share of the premium light segment for the seventh consecutive quarter. Coors Light also experienced “significant volume growth” outside of North America, in particular in Latin America, and sales were nearly flat globally.
Domestic Miller Lite volumes, meanwhile, decreased 1.7 percent in 2016. Nevertheless, the brand also managed to gain share of the premium light segment for the ninth consecutive quarter, according to the company.
Hunter added that MillerCoors will continue to integrate and “rapidly” expand the geographic reach of the company’s U.S. craft acquisitions — Saint Archer, Hop Valley, Terrapin and Revolver. One example is Terrapin’s planned taproom and microbrewery at The Battery Atlanta next to the Atlanta Braves’ new stadium, SunTrust Park. The company is also pushing “incremental growth” of Peroni, Hunter said.
Hunter acknowledged it was a “challenging year” for Blue Moon seasonals and the Redd’s Apple Ale brand, which he said are “under a lot of pressure.” In response, the company plans to release new aluminum pint packaging for Redd’s and Blue Moon Belgian White in the second quarter. Also, Hunter touted Henry’s Hard Soda as the No. 1 hard soda franchise in 2016, adding that the company plans to launch Henry’s Hard Sparkling water in Lemon Lime and Passionfruit Flavors in March.
Meanwhile, MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley stressed the importance of reaching economy consumers before they go to “cheap wines and spirits.”
“Once they’re in there, that’s where they stay,” Hattersley said.
Hunter said the company plans to boost its economy brands, starting with a new marketing push and redesigned packaging for Miller High Life and new packaging for Keystone.
Net sales for MillerCoors’ parent company, Molson Coors, declined 4.2 percent to $2.468 billion for the quarter. For the year, the company’s sales were also down, 2.3 percent, to $10.983 billion.
Worldwide volumes of Molson Coors’ beer increased 1.2 percent for the quarter to 22.1 million hectoliters. However, the company experienced a 0.8 percent decrease in volume to 95.2 million hectoliters for the year.