(Adds company comment, background)
LONDON, April 30 British American Tobacco
, the world's No. 2 cigarette maker, posted improved
sales volume for the first quarter, though foreign exchange
rates were a big drag on revenue.
The maker of Pall Mall and Lucky Strike cigarettes said on
Wednesday volume, which measures the amount of tobacco sold,
fell 1 percent in the three months ended March 31.
That is an improvement from the 2.7 percent decline the
company reported for 2013.
Gains in Asian countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia were
more than offset by declines in European markets such as Russia
"Emerging market volumes are increasing, however, the
trading environment in Western Europe remains challenging," the
As people in many developed countries smoke less, British
American and its rivals Philip Morris International and
Imperial Tobacco rely on price increases to keep their
revenue and profits growing.
British American said revenue in the first quarter,
excluding the impact of currency exchange rates, rose 2 percent,
helped by price increases and gains in market share. Yet at
current currency rates, revenue fell 12 percent.
Still, the company's chief executive said in a statement he
"remains confident of delivering consistent earnings growth"
this year, though performance will be more skewed to the second
half than in previous years, due to the timing of price
increases and foreign exchange impacts.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by David Holmes and Mark