* 2nd-qtr adjusted earnings/shr $1.41 vs est. $1.32
* Sales fall 15.4 pct to $1 bln
* Shares up 4 pct (Adds CEO comments, details, updates shares)
By Sruthi Ramakrishnan and Ramkumar Iyer
Aug 6 (Reuters) - Molson Coors Brewing Co reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by higher pricing and increasing demand for its higher-margin beers, and the company said it was moving to make its higher-end brands a bigger part of sales.
Molson Coors’ shares were up 4 percent at $73.33 in afternoon trading on Thursday.
MillerCoors, Molson Coors’ joint venture with SABMiller Plc , reported a 9.4 percent rise in second-quarter profit as sales of brands such as Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s increased.
Beer drinkers tastes have changed, Molson Coors Chief Executive Mark Hunter told Reuters.
They are drinking less but moving more towards craft-style beers. While this trend is helping margins, it is inhibiting volume growth, he said.
“We’ll continue to make sure that our portfolio moves in a premium direction, craft, above-premium and cider,” Hunter said.
Molson Coors is open to building its higher-margin business through acquisitions, Hunter added.
Molson Coors’ net sales fell 15.4 percent to $1 billion in the three months ended June 30, hurt by a strong dollar and less demand for its flagship Coors Light brew.
Molson Coors Canada sales volume fell 6.6 percent in the second quarter, but net sales per hectoliter increased 4.1 percent in local currency due to higher pricing.
Demand for Coors Light and Miller Lite has been declining in the United States despite marketing campaigns. The brands contribute 55 percent of MillerCoors’ sales.
Molson Coors gets all its revenue from outside the United States and receives 42 percent of MillerCoors’ profit.
Net income attributable to Molson Coors fell to $229 million, or $1.23 per share, in the second quarter, from $290.9 million, or $1.56 per share, a year earlier.
The company earned $1.41 per share, excluding items.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.32 per share and revenue of $1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Up to Wednesday’s close, the company’s shares had fallen 5.5 percent this year. (Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan; Editing by Ted Kerr)