Imperial Tobacco sees profits at lower end of range

LONDON, April 30 Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:15am EDT

LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - Imperial Tobacco said it expects full year earnings per share to be at the lower end of its 4-8 percent target range, as the Davidoff and Gauloises cigarette maker posted a fall in profits amid the difficult European climate.

Imperial, the world's fourth-largest cigarette group by market share, said adjusted earnings fell 3.1 percent to 90.2 pence a share for the six months to the end of March. Analysts expected 90.3 pence a share on average, Reuters data showed.

"The resilience we're showing in a deteriorating EU environment demonstrates the strength and versatility of our unique total tobacco portfolio," said Chief Executive Alison Cooper in a half year results statement on Tuesday.

"We expect to grow our full year earnings per share in line with our earnings model, albeit at the lower end given the difficult operating environment," she said.

Revenue from its key strategic brands rose 5 percent, while volumes increased 1 percent. Its fine cut tobacco net revenue rose 10 percent while volumes grew by 9 percent.

The Bristol-based company also increased its half year dividend by 11 percent to 35.2 pence per share.

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