Molson Coors notches 8th straight quarter of top-line growth

Molson Coors Beverage Company today said it grew its top line for the eighth consecutive quarter in the first quarter of 2023 and reaffirmed its full-year guidance for continued top- and bottom-line growth.

The company nearly doubled its bottom line on an adjusted basis and grew revenue across both its Americas and EMEA & APAC business units. Molson Coors’ results were buoyed by the strength of its core and above-premium brands and strong pricing across its global markets.  

The company said first-quarter net sales increased 5.9%, and 8.2% in constant currency, to $2.35 billion. Net income was $72.5 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, down from $151.5 million, or 70 cents per diluted share, in the same period a year ago. Underlying pre-tax net income rose 89% to $157.8 million, up from $83.5 million in the first quarter of 2022.

Gavin Hattersley, Molson Coors’ president and CEO, said the first-quarter results reflect the company’s continued progress and demonstrate the strength of the company’s foundation.

“Our iconic core brands remain healthy, and our premiumization strategy is working as we see continued momentum across our newest brands in above-premium beer and beyond,” he said.  

Coors Light and Miller Lite, Molson Coors’ core brands in the U.S., grew revenue by double digits in the first quarter, while Molson Canadian and Coors Light turned in sales gains in Canada. The company’s business in Europe and Asia, meanwhile, grew 7.6%, fueled by premiumization, including the continued strength of Madrí Excepcional, which now ranks as the No. 8-best-selling brand in the U.K.

While Hattersley praised Molson Coors’ results, he cautioned that the first-quarter growth rate should not be applied to the entirety of 2023, noting a few one-time benefits from lapping pandemic-related restrictions in some countries and strong pricing in January and February. He also said continued economic uncertainty and the global consumer outlook could affect future results.

Overall, Hattersley says the results underscore “the strength of Molson Coors’ foundation,” and give the company confidence to reaffirm its 2023 annual guidance to book top- and bottom-line growth on a constant currency basis for the full year.

“The fundamentals of our business are strong. We’re growing revenue in both business units and across our iconic brands. And our above-premium innovation across the Americas and EMEA & APAC is truly changing the shape of our portfolio,” he said in a call with Wall Street analysts and investors.

Core strength

In the U.S., Coors Light and Miller Lite each grew revenue by double digits in the first quarter and held total industry dollar share. Miller Lite ranked as a top-10 growth brand, per Circana data. Hattersley said both brands benefited from Molson Coors’ first national Super Bowl ad campaign in 30 years, growing displays leading up to the game, and Coors Light was a top-three brand for all display activity in February “due to the strength of our plans and execution.”

Molson Coors’ brands turned in a successful first quarter elsewhere, as well. In Canada, Coors Light and Molson Canadian each posted growth.  And in the U.K., Carling remains the nation’s No. 1 beer by volume.

Above premium beer wins

Molson Coors’ efforts to premiumize its portfolio continue to pay off, Hattersley says. In the U.K., Madrí Excepcional continued to grow sales and share. The popular world lager is now bigger than Budweiser in the U.K. and recently passed Stella Artois in the on-trade to become the nation’s No. 6 beer in that channel.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Italian import Peroni Nastro Azzurro grew volume in the first quarter. The brand introduced its non-alcohol Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0, which will show up on Formula 1 racetracks due to its partnership with the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1™ Team.

Building beyond beer

Hattersley said Molson Coors’ portfolio of hard seltzers, flavored alcohol beverages, spirits-based beverages and non-alc beverages again grew in the quarter.

Those results were led by Simply Spiked Lemonade, which now ranks as a top-10 FMB brand as measured by Circana, and a top-five industry growth brand. The brand, which ended 2022 as the No. 2 new item in U.S. total beer, also launched in Canada in February and rolled out Simply Spiked Peach in the U.S. in March.  

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer grew brand volume in March, and Molson Coors released its RTD cocktail line, Topo Chico Spirited, last month. Hattersley also pointed to another innovation coming from its relationship with The Coca-Cola Company: the coming launch of Peace Hard Tea in September.

Capacity investments come online

Meanwhile, the company continues to invest in its production capabilities, reflecting its “successful approach to innovation,” Hattersley said.

Later this month, Molson Coors plans to christen a new flavor-packaging line at its Fort Worth brewery, part of a $65 million investment in the facility, which produces the majority of the company’s flavor innovations.

Overall, Hattersley said the company’s results underscore its “strong foundation” with an emphasis on growing core brands, premiumizing the portfolio through innovation and reaching new consumers.

“There’s power in consistency,” he said. “And in our case, there’s power in a portfolio that is strategically built to offer consumers a range of winning brands across price tiers and preferences.”

*Please see Molson Coors' Q1 earnings release to find important forward-looking statement disclosure and applicable reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures included in this story.