Juul annual sales projected to top $3 billion after profitable 2018 -Bloomberg

Juul brand vaping pens are seen for sale in a shop in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc’s revenue is expected to triple this year to about $3.4 billion following a profitable 2018, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

The vaping device maker revealed its first official growth figures last month, saying it made sales of over $1 billion in 2018, up from $200 million the year earlier.

Its overall profit for 2018 reached $12.4 million, Bloomberg reported here, citing a person briefed on the results.

Juul declined to comment on the report.

Highlighting the potential for exponential growth in the industry, Marlboro maker Altria Group bought a 35 percent stake in Juul for $12.8 billion in December.

The soaring sales come even as a divisive debate rages on over e-cigarettes, which offer an alternative free of the cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes, but are often seen as spurring new nicotine addiction, especially among teens.

Juul’s revenue in the fourth quarter fell 2.5 percent from the previous quarter, while its adjusted loss reached $70.4 million, Bloomberg said. However, poor U.S. results were offset by a strong international business.

The company said in November it would pull flavors such as mango and cucumber from retail store shelves to tackle concerns of widespread underage use. In the same month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new restrictions on flavored tobacco products.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar