Molson Coors stock falls as company cites split in consumer spending on beer

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A bottle of Molson Coors Brewing Co. Blue Moon brand beer
Tiffany Hagler-Geard | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Molson Coors Beverage is seeing a split emerge among its customers as inflation hits their wallets: some beer drinkers are trading down, while others are still shelling out for pricier six-packs.

Shares of the beverage company fell more than 10% in morning trading Tuesday as concerns about the uncertain macroeconomic environment weighed on the stock. The company reported second-quarter earnings and revenue roughly in line with Wall Street’s estimates.

CEO Gavin Hattersley told CNBC that the beer industry saw softening sales during the second quarter, which the company blamed for a 1.7% decline in its U.S. sales volume.

But Molson Coors said it outpaced the broader industry in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom during the period. Hattersley credited strong sales growth for pricier drinks like Blue Moon and Peroni beer, as well as strengthening demand for cheaper beers like Miller High Life and Keystone Light.

A year ago, Molson Coors began trimming its portfolio of lower-priced beers to focus on more popular options. Some investors wanted the company to ditch the segment altogether and instead focus entirely on more expensive beers, which have performed better in recent years.

“What some would regard as an Achilles heel, in the past, has positioned us perfectly at the moment,” Hattersley said. “Some of our competitors only operate in the premium space, which is obviously not a place I’d like to be as we’re heading into what’s clearly going to be tough times.”

As Molson Coors’ six-packs get more expensive, more consumers could trade down to its lower-priced options. The company raised its prices in the spring by nearly double its usual rate and is considering another round of hikes toward the end of 2022, according to Hattersley.

Beer isn’t the only industry seeing a split in behavior among consumers. Ferrari reported a record second quarter on Tuesday, fueled by soaring growth for its luxury cars. Delta Air Lines said the recovery of tickets for premium-class tickets has outpaced that of main cabin tickets. Chipotle Mexican Grill said high-income customers are visiting more frequently, while those making less than $75,000 a year aren’t ordering its burritos as often.

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