Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Thirsty for growth

February 10, 2009

USA/Check Out liquid assets losing some steam.
 
While companies in every sector have been hit in the downturn, people still have to drink; especially when times are tough and they may reach for a little pick-me-up at a bar or a convenience store. That should help brewers and soda makers, right?  Well, sort of.

MillerCoors, the combined U.S. operations of Molson Coors Brewing Co and SABMiller Plc, said quarterly net profit jumped 16.5 percent as it cut costs and raised prices. MillerCoors, the No. 2 U.S. beer company with brands such as Miller Lite and Coors Light, said sales rose 3.1 percent to $1.74 billion.  Still, the U.S. beer category softened during the fourth quarter. A big reason the company did well was because it raised prices.
 
Molson Coors, meanwhile, said its fourth-quarter results were hit by slowing beer sales, higher commodity costs and that pesky foreign currency. The company’s worldwide beer volume rose 4 percent for the year, but fell 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter on a proforma basis. Fourth-quarter profit dropped 44.1 percent.

Meanwhile, on the soft drink side of things, Pepsi Bottling Group beat Wall Street’s expectations by 5 cents per share. Still, its sales fell. The largest bottler of PepsiCo drinks gave a 2009 forecast that falls a little bit short of analysts’ average expectations. 

Pepsi Bottling expects 2009 to be “another challenging year,” Chief Executive Eric Foss said in a statement.  We’ll see what Pepsi thinks when it reports earnings on Friday.

Also in the basket:

Peanut recall has U.S. consumers ‘spooked’

Wrigley suspends Chris Brown, Rihanna silent

Amazon’s Bezos says Kindle solely for reading

Losses Mount on Credit Cards for Retailers (New York Times)

(Reuters photo)

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