RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Altria, the owner of cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, said its first-quarter profit rose about 20 percent as it shipped more cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Shares of Altria Group Inc. rose less than 1 percent before the stock market opened Thursday.
The company said cigarette shipments, including its biggest brand Marlboro, rose 1.2 percent in the quarter from the same time a year ago. Shipments of its smokeless tobacco products, which include its Copenhagen and Skoal brands, rose 7.8 percent.
The company is in the midst of cutting $300 million of costs by the end of 2017, which includes job cuts.
In the three months ending March 31, Altria reported net income of $1.22 billion, or 62 cents per share, compared with $1.02 billion, or 52 cents per share, in the same quarter a year before.
Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 72 cents per share, topping Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 68 cents per share.
Revenue, after removing excise taxes, rose 5 percent to $3.92 billion in the period.
The Richmond, Virginia, company expects full-year earnings in the range of $3 to $3.05 per share. Analysts expected earnings of $3.04 per share, according to FactSet.
Besides cigarettes, Altria also sells several wine labels, including Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest and 14 Hands.
Its shares rose 45 cents to $62 in premarket trading about 30 minutes before the market open.
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 MO at http://www.zacks.com/ap/MO
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