Imperial Tobacco Group Plc (IMT), Europe’s second-biggest tobacco company, expects first-half cigarette volume to fall, even as sales and profit increased in the second quarter. Selling quantities for the six months ending March 31 will decline about 4 percent, hurt by a 7 percent drop in the fiscal first quarter, the Bristol, England-based company said today in a statement. Revenue will rise about 3 percent at constant currency-exchange rates, Imperial said. Financial performance remains in line with company forecasts, it said.
Tobacco companies are relying on growth in emerging markets and from new products to offset declining consumption in western Europe and North America. In the U.K., where Imperial is the biggest seller of cigarettes, the tobacco duty rose by 37 pence on March 21.
First-half shipments of Davidoff online, Gauloises Blondes and West cigarettes, as well as sales of Cuban cigars, saw “continued success,” the company said.
Imperial has gained 3.5 percent in London trading this year, compared with a 4.1 percent increase in shares of British American Tobacco Plc. (BATS) Imperial plans to release first-half earnings details on May 1.