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Molson Coors 4Q profit tumbles 65 pct

DENVER (AP) -- Molson Coors Brewing Co. said Thursday its fourth-quarter net income dropped 65 percent, hurt by a higher tax rate and tough comparisons to an exceptionally strong year-ago period.

For the quarter ended Dec. 29, Molson Coors earned $60 million, or 33 cents per share, down from $173.2 million, or 95 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before. Excluding one-time items, the company said it posted an adjusted profit of 69 cents per share.

Total sales rose 6 percent to $1.48 billion from $1.4 billion. After excise taxes, revenue rose 10 percent to $1.03 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of 64 cents per share on $1.07 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Molson Coors said its sales got a boost from a 15 percent increase in worldwide beer volume, along with contributions from its recently acquired Central European business.

But the company said its profits dropped as a result of a higher tax rate and tough comparisons to a very strong 2011 quarter that included an extra week of sales.

Pre-tax profit at the company's Canadian business fell 22 percent to $101 million as a result of lower sale volumes and a shift toward higher-cost products, along with an increase in pension expense. Sales to retailers fell 13 percent, hurt by weak demand and the inclusion of the extra week in the 2011 period.

MillerCoors, its joint venture with SABMiller that sells both companies brands in the U.S., posted a 4 percent drop in adjusted profit to $185.8 million. Its sales to retailers fell 1.1 percent on an adjusted basis, while sales to wholesalers decreased 1.3 percent.

For the full year 2012, Molson Coors earned $443 million, or $2.44 per share, down from $676.3 million, or $3.63 per share, in 2011. Revenue after excise taxes rose to $3.92 billion from $3.52 billion.

Its shares rose 15 cents to $44.77 in morning trading.