Premium cigarettes lift BAT Zimbabwe earnings

HARARE Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:19am EST

HARARE Feb 28 (Reuters) - British American Tobacco's Zimbabwean unit on Thursday more than doubled its full-year earnings on Thursday, driven by strong demand for its high-end cigarettes.

BAT Zimbabwe said earnings rose to $0.71 per share in 2012, up from $0.28 the previous year and fuelled by a 43 percent surge in sales of premium brands such as Dunhill.

Demand for more expensive cigarettes helped offset a decline in sales of cheaper brands, which were hit by an increase in the excise duty and as mass market customers were more sensitive to a slowdown in economic growth in 2012.

Revenue increased by 30 percent to $51.8 million in 2012.

BAT Zimbabwe, which is 60 percent owned by BAT Plc, last year agreed on a phased plan which will see 51 percent shareholding being held by local blacks by 2015 under President Robert Mugabe's empowerment drive meant to localise control of foreign firms.

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