Japan Tobacco cuts profit outlook on weakness in reduced-risk cigarettes

FILE PHOTO: Japan Tobacco Inc (JT) headquarters building is seen in Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan Tobacco Inc 2914.T cut its annual profit outlook on Thursday, citing weaker-than-expected sales of its reduced-risk cigarettes amid strong competition from rival Philip Morris International Inc PM.N.

The company said it now expects a full-year operating profit of 505 billion yen ($4.65 billion) compared with a previous forecast of 518 billion yen. For the third quarter, operating profit fell 26% year-on-year to 129 billion yen.

Japan is the world’s biggest market for “heat not burn” products, which emit less smoke than conventional cigarettes, as regular e-cigarettes with liquid nicotine are banned.

But the company said fewer-than-expected people were trying out and switching to its “heat not burn” Ploom S cigarettes, which compete with Philip Morris’ more popular IQOS products.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman