05/03/2016 10:29 EDT | Updated 05/04/2017 01:12 EDT

Molson Coors net profit almost doubles, helped by sale of Vancouver brewery

MONTREAL — Molson Coors Brewing Co. beat expectations as its net profit almost doubled to US$158.8 million in the first quarter, helped by proceeds from the sale of its Vancouver brewery.

The Denver and Montreal-based company (NYSE:TAP) earned 78 cents per diluted share for the three months ended March 31. That compared to 43 cents per share of $81.1 million a year earlier.

Molson Coors, which reports in U.S. dollars, saw its underlying net income grew 28 per cent to $110.3 million or 54 cents per share after excluding one-time items, up from $86.1 million or 46 cents per share a year earlier.

Net sales were $657.2 million, down about six per cent from the first quarter of 2015, but up 0.1 per cent in constant currency. Global beer volume increased 1.2 per cent to 11.6 million hectolitres while Coors Light volume was up 3.5 per cent.

Sales in Canada fell to $268 million from $313.5 million due to termination of an agreement to sell Miller brands, increased competition and weak economic conditions in Western Canada and a $27.8 million negative impact from a weaker dollar.

The company was expected to earn 43 cents per share in adjusted profits on $625.9 million of sales, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Results were helped by volume growth and lower costs, along with a $110.4 million gain from the sale of the B.C. brewery.

In Canada, its adjusted pretax income excluding the Vancouver brewery sale increased 20.7 per cent to $37.3 million, mainly due to a temporary reduction in distribution costs and cost savings.

The Canadian Press