Tobacco group Swedish Match posts surprise Q4 profit fall

STOCKHOLM, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Tobacco group Swedish Match reported an unexpected decline in fourth-quarter operating profit on Wednesday, hit by a one-off impairment charge, and proposed raising its dividend.

Operating profit shrank to 1.10 billion Swedish crowns, ($114.1 million) from 1.20 billion a year earlier. The mean forecast in a Refinitiv poll of five analysts had been for a rise to 1.44 billion crowns.

An impairment charge of 367 million crowns related to Swedish Match’s European chewing tobacco business weighed on earnings in the quarter.

The company proposed a dividend of 12.50 crowns per share for 2018, a 19% increase from the year before.

$1 = 9.6391 Swedish crowns Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard