Molson Coors Brewing Company Class A Earnings Call Insights: Canada Volumes and Trade Inventories

Molson Coors Brewing Company Class A (NYSE:TAP) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Canada Volumes

Dara Mohsenian – Morgan Stanley: Some more clarity on what drove Canadian volume softness from an industry standpoint in the quarter. I’m assuming weather had an impact, but were there factors there, because I am surprised the volume is still so weak in July with the easy comp there and improved weather. And then also can you just discuss if there has been any change that you’ve seen in terms of the level of competitive pressure coming from the value segment?

Peter Swinburn – President and CEO: So let me just headline it and Stewart can give you more detail. The second quarter last year was a strong quarter, in Canada volumes were up. So from that point of view it was a difficult comp. Plus the fact that we did benefit from the launch of Coors Light Iced T as we highlighted in the second quarter of last year. So we were tracking that as well and that certainly had an impact on our second quarter figures, but Stewart, do you want to go into more detail.

Stewart Glendinning – President and CEO, Molson Coors Canada: Yeah, happy to do that, Peter. I mean, look, I think if you looked at the beer industry June was an appalling month in beer volumes in broader alcohol was other lines and spirits were more or less flat, but beer itself was down across the country, and that was primarily driven by weakness in weather. If you just looked at our volumes, we were off for the year, if you look at the industry number we used were off by about 100,000 hectoliters for the year and above half of that was Coors Light Iced T, so hope you that gives you a little perspective.

Peter Swinburn – President and CEO: Value segment?

Stewart Glendinning – President and CEO, Molson Coors Canada: So, value segment did – how does the value segment operate for us, value is the place we actually historically underperformed, I would say, as I look at the second quarter please to say we grew of value, value itself was flat, but our share of the segment grew…

Dara Mohsenian – Morgan Stanley: Also can you talk about the value segment as a percent of industry volume and if you are seeing any changes there? Then just on the pricing environment in general, it was the weakest result we’ve seen from you guys in a few years. So, can you separate out kind of price and mix in terms of the impact on the quarter and how pronounced some of the discounting you are seeing is and what you are seeing from operational standpoint by region?

Stewart Glendinning – President and CEO, Molson Coors Canada: So, first on value because value was close to flat value did gain share of beer in total and we gained share of value. With respect to NSR so break into two pieces. On a net price basis, we were positive by almost 1%. Across the country, we saw pricing pressure in Atlantic and Quebec, primarily very competitive markets, continued to see pricing pressure well through the end of the quarter. I can comment on that piece. I think if you then looked at the remaining impact, you’ll find there were really several impacts. First of all, we saw loss or premium overall, so there was a segment impact on the market. The second one was, as I mentioned already, we saw a stronger value performance, value having lower NSR, so that mix resulted in lower NSR. We saw a shift to some of our larger packs and then, of course, we saw lower volumes in Ontario and the combination of those drove the balance of the NSR negative.


Trade Inventories

Bryan Spillane – Bank of America: I guess a follow-up on Canada, just where do we stand now on trade inventories in the quarter because it look like your sales to wholesalers ran a little bit ahead of sales retailers. So is there any residual effect in the second half as we look at shipments?

Stewart Glendinning – President and CEO, Molson Coors Canada: Well, I think if you looked at – yes, so I mean, I think if you looked at the difference between the volumes that were our physical volumes versus our industry volumes you’ll see a bigger spread there, that is primarily related to Ontario and it relates to the way in which the LCBO accounts for shipments coming from Europe. So there is a small amount there. I won’t speak to the exact volumes.

Bryan Spillane – Bank of America: But as we are modeling out the second half, would we see some lag between what you’ll ship versus what the sales to retailer will be in Canada.

Gavin Hattersley – Global CFO: Again we won’t give any forward guidance on that, but again I have explained so the difference between the fiscal volumes and that adjustment for the industry. Just if you go back there is more commentary on that. If you look back over time, you will see historically in our numbers a difference between those, I just think if you looked at this particular quarter, you will see that the gap is a little bit higher.

Bryan Spillane – Bank of America: Gavin just on the tax rate, is the cash tax rate for the quarter or for the year going to resemble your P&L tax rate and I guess does your free cash flow at all for the year get flattered by the lower tax rate?

Gavin Hattersley – Global CFO: Our underlying free cash flow goal that we’ve got out there of $700 million plus or minus 10% is inclusive of any cash tax amounts we have left that unchanged from our earlier guidance. This one-off change in the Canadian tax law is essentially a non-cash item.