Overseas tobacco seller Philip Morris results top Street estimates; lifts earnings forecast



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NEW YORK — Philip Morris International Inc.'s first-quarter profit fell, pressured by a strong dollar. Still, its performance beat analysts' expectations as it shipped more cigarette.

The seller of Marlboro and other cigarette brands outside the United States also raised its full-year earnings forecast on Thursday.

The stock climbed almost 7 percent in morning trading.

Philip Morris earned $1.8 billion, or $1.16 per share, for the period ended March 31. That compares with $1.88 billion, or $1.18 per share, a year earlier.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.02 per share.

Revenue totaled $6.62 billion, excluding excise taxes. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $6.25 billion.

Because Philip Morris does all of its business overseas, the company has to navigate changes in currency values. A stronger dollar cuts into revenue generated overseas when it's translated back into dollars.

Cigarette shipment volume climbed 1.4 percent when removing acquisitions. Its biggest gain was in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Marlboro cigarette shipments rose 2.1 percent due to the European Union and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Shipments of L&M increased 8.2 percent on growth in the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Chesterfield cigarette shipments rose 8.6 percent mostly due to Italy.

The company said that its cigarette market share increased in markets such as Argentina, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Russia and others.

Philip Morris now foresees full-year earnings in a range of $4.32 to $4.42 per share. Its prior guidance was for earnings between $4.27 and $4.37 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet predict earnings of $4.26 per share.

Shares of Philip Morris — which is based in New York and Switzerland — gained $5.37, or 6.8 percent, to $83.44 in morning trading. They are still down more than 1 percent for the past year.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on PM at http://www.zacks.com/ap/PM

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Keywords: Philip Morris, Earnings Report

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