02/10/2015 08:15 EST | Updated 04/12/2015 05:59 EDT

Molson Coors Profit Plunges As Lower Sales, Exchange Rates Take A Bite

Peter Swinburn, president and chief executive officer of Molson Coors Brewing Company, pounds the gavel at the close of trading at the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, March 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

MONTREAL - Molson Coors Brewing says its fourth-quarter profit fell nearly 32 per cent to US$94.1 million, including discontinued operations — down from $137.2 million a year earlier.

The company says its profit was hit by a higher tax rate, unfavourable changes to currency values and lower volumes of beer sold in the United States and Canada.

Net sales dropped 5.3 per cent to US$973.8 million, but would have been up 0.9 per cent if currency values were constant.

On a per-share basis, the profit fell to 50 cents US, down from 74 cents.

Still, the American-Canadian beer company will be raising its dividend by 11 per cent, beginning in the first quarter.

The new quarterly dividend will rise to 41 cents US per share on March 16, up from 37 cents per share.

Molson Coors Canada (TSX:TPX.B) will pay a similar dividend in Canadian funds.

The company also announced a new share buyback program, which enables Molson Coors to spend up to US$1 billion over four years to repurchase and cancel its class A and B common stock.

“This announcement reflects our continued confidence in the future profit and cash generating potential of our company,"" said Gavin Hattersley, Molson Coors chief financial officer.

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