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Molson Coors Brewing Co.'s fourth-quarter profit blew past Wall Street estimates, as price increases, cost savings and an extra selling week helped offset weak sales volume.

The brewer of Molson Canadian, Coors Light and Blue Moon beers also cited easy comparisons with the year-earlier period, when the weak economy hurt sales and higher fuel and commodity costs pressured profits.

With business concentrated in the mature markets of Canada, Britain and the United States, Molson is seen as having a disadvantage compared to larger rivals Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller PLC, which are strong in developing countries. Molson had missed analysts' profit estimates for the past four quarters.

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In the latest quarter, net income was $173.2-million (U.S.), or 95 cents per share, up from $109.8-million, or 58 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings were 97 cents per share, topping analysts' average estimate of 71 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose 12.2 per cent to $937.3-million, also topping Wall Street's estimate of $924.5-million.

Molson Coors sold 12.2 million hectoliters of beer in the quarter, an increase of 2.6 per cent. Yet excluding the extra selling week, volume declined 0.1 per cent.

Earlier on Thursday, MillerCoors, the combined U.S. operations of SABMiller Plc and Molson Coors, reported a 32.5-per-cent jump in quarterly profit.

Molson shares closed on Wednesday at $43.86 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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