Molson Coors Brewing Co. (TAP) posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter profits Tuesday but noted that "material weakness" in the way it accounted for deferred tax liabilities in statements from 2016 and 2017 will mean a collective $247.7 million hit to retained earnings for the 2017 year. The shares tumbled.
Molson said underlying non-GAAP earnings for the three months ending in December came in at 84 cents per share, up 35.5% from the same period last year and 4 cents ahead of the Street consensus. Group revenues, Molson Coors said, fell 6.2% to $2.419 billion, narrowing missing analysts' forecasts of $2.54 billion, as weaker U.S. demand hit global beer volumes.
Looking into 2019, Molson Coors said its sees underlying free-cash flow of around $1.4 billion, plus or minus 10%, and added $450 million in new cost cuts to its current $7000 million savings plan over the next three years. The company also reiterated its plan to reinstitute a dividend payout-ratio in the range of 20-25% of annual trailing earnings by the middle of this year.
"We enter 2019 with a U.S. commercial plan focused on mix and share improvement that is fully resourced and showing early signs of impact against Coors Light, a commercial strategy that is working in Europe and International and continually improving commercial trends in Canada," said CEO Mark Hunter. "We are focused on further strong free cash flow delivery and deleverage supported by more than $200 million of cost savings in 2019 and further $450 million across 2020 - 2022."
Molson Coors shares fell 9.4% in Tuesday's trading following the results and re-statement warning and closed at $59.19.
Molson said the 2016 and 2017 re-statements were "not material", but nonetheless filed new consolidated statements for both years in its 2018 annual report.
"In connection with the restatement, management of the Company has determined that a material weakness existed in the Company's internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2018 relating to the design and maintenance of effective controls over the completeness and accuracy of the accounting for and disclosure of the income tax effects of acquired partnership interests," Molson said in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.