Philip Morris Profit Tops Estimates on Higher Prices

Philip Morris International Inc., the world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company, posted first-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as higher prices helped cushion the blow of lower sales volumes.

Net income in the three months through March fell 12 percent to $1.88 billion, or $1.18 a share, from $2.13 billion, or $1.28, a year earlier, the New York-based maker of Marlboro cigarettes said today in a statement. Excluding some items, profit was $1.19 a share. The average of 12 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was $1.16.

Chief Executive Officer Andre Calantzopoulos has been raising prices on the company’s cigarettes to help make up for declining sales volumes. Philip Morris, which gets all of its revenue outside of the U.S., said favorable pricing changes added $406 million to sales, while cigarette shipment volume declined 4.4 percent.

Revenue excluding excise taxes fell 8.8 percent to $6.92 billion, trailing analysts’ $7 billion average estimate.

Profit per share this year will be $5.09 to $5.19, Philip Morris said today. That’s up from its previous forecast of $5.02 to $5.12. Analysts estimate $5.12.

The shares fell 1.9 percent to $83.15 at the close in New York. Philip Morris has dropped 4.6 percent this year, compared with a 0.9 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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