Tags: altria | profit | marlboro | prices

Altria Profit Tops Analyst Estimates on Higher Marlboro Prices

Tuesday, 24 Jul 2012 07:54 AM

Altria Group Inc., the largest seller of tobacco in the U.S., reported second-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by higher cigarette prices.

Net income rose to $1.23 billion, or 60 cents a share, from $444 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier, the Richmond, Virginia-based maker of Marlboro cigarettes said Monday in a statement. Excluding items, such as Altria’s investment in SABMiller, profit totaled 59 cents. Analysts projected 57 cents, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Altria’s Philip Morris USA business raised prices on all cigarette brands by 6 cents a pack last month, the third increase in the past year.

“Most retailers passed the entirety of price increases on to consumers,” Bonnie Herzog, an analyst with Wells Fargo & Co. in New York, wrote in a note before the results. She rates Altria as outperform, the equivalent of a buy recommendation. The higher prices “cover up for lower unit volume,” she said.

Altria fell 1.2 percent to $35.49 Monday in New York. The shares have advanced 20 percent this year through Monday.

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