Molson Coors (TAP) is one of the largest brewers of beer by sales in the world. The company was formed in 2005 by the merger of two storied brewers; U.S.-based Adolph Coors Co., which was founded in 1873, and Canadian brewer Molson Inc., which was established in 1786. It has headquarters in Denver and Montreal. In 2008, Molson Coors entered into a joint venture with SABMillier, called MillerCoors. The partnership distributes the two companies’ brands in the United States in order to better compete with chief rival Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD). Note that the brewer competes with SABMiller outside of the United States. Molson Coors made another joint venture in 2010 with Hebei Si’hai Beer Company of China, increasing its presence in this attractive market. Lastly, the company purchased StarBev in 2012 in an effort to bolster its presence in Europe. The company has a wide selection of brands, including Molson Canadian, Coors Light, Carling, Staropramen, and Blue Moon.
Sales came under pressure during the 2007-2009 recession as many drinkers around the world traded down to cheaper brews. The North American and Western European markets have been particularly under pressure due to changing consumer tastes. However, the top line has strengthened in recent years, thanks to the brewer’s expanding operations in emerging markets. What’s more, management has done a good job of protecting profits during this difficult stretch by implementing a cost-savings program.
Despite the recent challenges, Molson Coors is performing well. This stock is up over 30% in value over the past year. Results in North America are starting to turn the corner thanks to a solid showing at MillerCoors. This business has benefited from strong demand for Coors Light. Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s have been popular with beer drinkers and have helped the company fend off competition from the craft beer movement. All told, the joint venture has been a success thus far. Looking ahead, business in Western Europe should pick up as the macroeconomic climate improves in that region. Furthermore, cost-cutting efforts should continue to buoy the bottom line going forward.
Management has its eye on the future. The company is working to bolster sales in developed markets, build its operations in growth markets, and grow via mergers & acquisitions. This strategy has been a success thus far. Indeed, the brewing giant has diversified its footprint considerably in recent years. These investments should help volumes continue to grow as the beer business consolidates. Looking ahead, Molson Coors will likely focus on building its presence in emerging markets, such as China, India, and Brazil, which offer very attractive growth prospects. Note, though, that the recent consolidation in the alcoholic beverage space has limited these investment opportunities somewhat. Still, we would not be surprised to see a few acquisitions in the near term. As always, product introductions and marketing efforts remain crucial for the brewer in order to boost volumes. The company will also work to pare costs in order to bolster shareholder returns over the long haul.
Finances are no cause for concern. Molson Coors generates strong cash flow, which has allowed it to expand its operations and reward shareholders. However, debt reduction will likely be a priority in the months ahead. The company took on a considerable amount of debt when it purchased StarBev and has been working this balance down. Still, Molson Coors has plenty of cash to lower its debt-to-capital ratio as well as return cash to its stockholders. In fact, TAP shares offer an attractive dividend yield, which may interest income-oriented investors.
After a tough stretch to start this decade, the brewer is moving in a direction investors can raise their glass to. Molson Coors has a solid long-term growth strategy. Sales and earnings should advance at a steady clip in the years ahead. For more information and insight, investors are advised to see our quarterly updates on this stock in The Value Line Investment Survey.
At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have a position in any of the stocks mentioned.