BAT sales jump on vaping, oral nicotine; announces 2 billion-pound buyback

A man smokes an e-cigarette in the queue to Canary Wharf tube station in London, Britain, November 27, 2019. Picture taken November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - British American Tobacco (BATS.L) on Friday reported a 7% rise in full-year adjusted revenue to 25.7 billion pounds ($34.8 billion), helped by sales of e-cigarettes and oral nicotine.

The world’s second-largest tobacco company also announced a dividend increase of 1.0% to 217.8 pence and a 2 billion pound share repurchase programme for 2022.

It posted a 51% rise to 2.05 billion pounds in adjusted sales of its “new categories” product line which includes e-cigarettes, heated tobacco and oral nicotine. Though the division has yet to turn a profit, BAT said it was on track to report revenue of 5 billion pounds and profitability by 2025.

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"Continued growth in new categories is a cornerstone of BAT's long-term plans for success," Third Bridge analyst Ross Hindle said. "With over 1.1 billion smokers still using combustibles, the opportunity to convert consumers towards New Categories is highly attractive."

The company said 4.8 million more consumers than last year used non-combustible products such as Vuse e-cigarettes, glo heated tobacco and Velo oral nicotine.

BAT said it expects global tobacco industry volumes to decline by around 2.5% this year. For 2021, the company had estimated those volumes to remain flat.

Before adjusting items and including the dilutive effect of employee share schemes, adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) fell 0.8% to 329.0 pence from 331.7 pence.

The maker of Lucky Strike and Camel cigarettes said it expects constant currency revenue growth of 3%-5% this year, and high-single figure constant currency adjusted EPS growth, weighted towards the second half of the year.

BAT shares, which have risen more than 20% in the past year, were flat in morning trade.

($1 = 0.7388 pounds)

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Reporting by Richa Naidu in London and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Jason Neely

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