Molson Coors’ chief executive said cost inflation is now his biggest concern after the US brewer experienced a further jump in prices for inputs like barley, aluminium and freight.
That upward trend was taking some of the shine off consumer demand that otherwise appeared resilient despite broader concerns over rising interest rates, inflation and a potential economic recession.
“The consumer has shown themselves over many, many recessions . . . to be resilient in terms of beer purchases, so I would choose input costs as being the bigger of the concerns” around inflation, chief executive Gavin Hattersley told the Financial Times.
Behind Hattersley’s concern was the $434mn year-on-year leap in cost of goods sold to $2.1bn in the second quarter. Revenue was barely changed at $2.92bn, the maker of Miller Lite and Blue Moon beers reported on Tuesday.
About half the jump in costs was due to inflation, and primarily increases in the price of freight, natural gas and inputs like barley and aluminium, Hattersley said. The rest was due to investment in the “premiumisation” of the company’s brands.
Hattersley said the brewer had “cushions” in the form of hedges for some of its costs and was intentionally keeping high its inventories of both unfinished goods and inputs, including a year’s supply of barley, in case supply chains deteriorate.
Molson Coors has experienced growth in its premium tier and economy segments. Should consumers pull back on more expensive beverages, Hattersley said the company was “ready to pivot” its diverse portfolio of drinks towards more value-oriented options.
Owing to the jump in costs, net income at Molson Coors tumbled 88 per cent from a year ago to $47.3mn. After accounting for certain mark-to-market fluctuations and other costs, adjusted earnings of $260.1mn slightly exceeded Wall Street forecasts.
Shares closed 10.5 per cent lower in regular trading on Tuesday.