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Analyst lifts Molson Coors rating, price target

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Molson Coors Brewing Co. hit their highest level in more than four years on Monday after a Goldman Sachs analyst boosted her rating and price target as North American beer volumes begin to improve.

THE SPARK: Judy Hong of Goldman Sachs raised Molson Coors' rating to "Buy" from "Neutral" and raised her price target to $63 from $47.

THE ANALYSIS: In a client note Hong said that beer volumes are starting to recover in North America more people go back to work. A Goldman Sachs analysis suggests that beer consumption is about 8 percent below normal levels due to the recession. Hong said this implies that "there is significant room for a bounce back in the industry as employment trends improve and consumers re-establish historical drinking habits."

The unemployment is at 7.7 percent, versus 4.7 percent in 2007, before the Great Recession.

Hong is also encouraged by new products, saying that brands like Third Shift will target the above-premium segment at a higher price. The analyst thinks that new products could add about 4 percent to Molson Coors' volume.

Molson Coors declined to comment.

SHARE ACTION: Molson Coors Brewing's rose $2.52, or 5.2 percent, to $51.45 in afternoon trading. The shares touched $51.52 earlier in the session, their highest point since 2008. Year-to-date the stock is up 14.3 percent.