July 23, 2008 / 11:36 AM / 9 years ago

Philip Morris profit beats Wall Street view

3 Min Read

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Philip Morris International Inc (PM.N) posted better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday as the maker of the top-selling Marlboro brand shipped more cigarettes and was helped by the weak dollar.

The company also raised its full-year profit forecast.

Philip Morris International, which was spun off from Altria Group Inc (MO.N) at the end of March, said second-quarter profit rose to $1.82 billion, or 86 cents a share, from $1.48 billion, or 70 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts' average forecast was 83 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue, excluding excise taxes, rose 15 percent to $6.71 billion. Analysts, on average, had forecast $6.57 billion.

"The report looked good on all fronts," Charles Norton, portfolio manager for the Vice Fund (VICEX.O), said. "Every single part of the report illustrated to us that they continue to fire on all cylinders, much more so than this unit was doing pre-spinoff."

The company, which is comprised of the non-U.S.-based tobacco operations of the former Altria, shipped 223.17 billion cigarettes in the quarter, up 1 percent from a year earlier.

Shipments rose 3.2 percent in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as emerging markets helped lift Philip Morris International's sales and earnings.

"Overall, we think second-quarter results reinforce PMI's strong position in the global tobacco market, with solid underlying operating growth being driven by healthy top-line growth and continued cost savings," said Goldman Sachs analyst Judy Hong in a research note.

For the year, Philip Morris forecast earnings of $3.32 to $3.38 a share, up from its previous forecast of $3.18 to $3.24. Analysts' average forecast is $3.26 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Shares of Philip Morris, which rose more than 3 percent on Tuesday in anticipation of the report, were up 2 cents at $52.07 at midday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Brad Dorfman; Editing by Brian Moss and Lisa Von Ahn

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