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Molson Coors to launch new beers in quest to spur sales

03/06/2012 | 04:46pm US/Eastern

(Reuters) - Molson Coors Brewing Co said on Tuesday it will launch Coors Light Iced Tea and other new products, as the beer company fights to win a greater share of the struggling beer market.

Molson executives said during a meeting with analysts that the new products should help spur sales so the company can put less reliance on cost-cutting to drive its profit. It also seeks to make beer more attractive to people who have moved on to wine or cocktails.

"Someone else is eating our lunch in the alcohol space," Molson Coors Chief Executive Peter Swinburn said at the meeting, which was broadcast over the Internet.

Coors Light Iced Tea will go on sale first in Canada, where consumers are interested in flavored beers and other refreshing drinks, Molson executives said. They did not, however, rule out an expansion into the United States.

Other new products include Carling Zest, a limited-time-only beer with citrus flavors and an autumn-inspired Leinenkugels beer.

Molson Coors, which is aggressively pursuing the market for craft beers through its Tenth and Blake unit, said its new craft beer Batch 19, is performing better than it expected. With additional roll-outs planned for April, the new beer should be available in over 40 U.S. markets by fall, the company said.

Molson, whose core brands include Molson Canadian, Coors Light and Blue Moon, said it will spend more this year on marketing, given its new products.

Molson shares closed down $1.29, or 3 percent, at $42.04 on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Industrial average index <.DJI> closed down 1.6 percent.

MOVING ABROAD

Unlike its larger rivals Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, which have large businesses in developing and emerging markets, Molson's sales are concentrated in the mature markets of Canada, Britain and the United States.

But the company said on Tuesday it wants to accelerate growth in developing markets. It will also focus on China, Russia, India and Ukraine, and on the beers Coors Light, Carling and Cobra.

At present, Molson's international division accounts for about 3 percent of its worldwide volume, but the company said its goal is for that unit to become a "significant contributor" to sales volume and profit growth by 2015.

Last month, Molson reported fourth-quarter profit that blew past Wall Street estimates, as price increases, cost savings and an extra selling week helped offset weak sales volume.

(Reporting By Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)

By Martinne Geller

Stocks treated in this article : AB INBEV, SABMiller plc, Molson Coors Brewing Company
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