(Adds company comment, detail)
LONDON Aug 19 Imperial Tobacco said it
expected modest earnings growth in the current financial year
thanks to a slight upturn in Europe's cigarette market.
The maker of Davidoff and Gauloises cigarettes said sales
volume for its top-growth brands grew 3 percent in the nine
months to June 30.
Underlying net revenue rose 2 percent to 4.75 billion
pounds. On a reported basis, factoring in the impact of foreign
exchange swings, revenue fell 1 percent.
"The market as a whole has slightly improved in the past
quarter," Imperial said in a statement. "Although we have seen a
modest deceleration in the rate of market decline in parts of
Europe, this has been offset by a significant deterioration in
the Russian market and the impact of the turbulent situation in
the Middle East."
It said the markets in which it operates were shrinking at
an annual rate of about 4 percent.
Taxation and regulation of cigarettes are increasing in many
countries and tobacco companies like Imperial are moving quickly
into the e-cigarette market.
Imperial is set to become the world's third-biggest
cigarette company in the United States, and the leading
e-cigarette maker in the country, after it agreed last month to
buy some assets from Reynolds American and Lorillard
, which are merging.
Imperial reiterated a plan for a 10 percent increase in its
dividend and said a cost cutting programme was on track to
deliver incremental savings of 60 million pounds for the year.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller and Kate Holton; editing by Tom