LONDON (CNNfn) - London-based Imperial Tobacco posted a 15 percent rise in first-half profit Monday as strong international growth helped to offset a decline in U.K. earnings.|
Pretax earnings for the six months ending Mar. 25 rose to £210 million ($327 million) - at the top end of the range of forecasts in a poll by Reuters -- from £183 million a year earlier. With leading brands including Embassy, Regal and Lambert & Butler, the company is Britain's second-largest cigarette maker.
Acquisitions last year in Australia and New Zealand helped lift the share of non-U.K. earnings to 45 percent from 39 percent a year earlier.
Overseas pretax earnings grew 24 percent, but U.K. profit fell 8 percent as higher tobacco taxes cut sales, though Imperial's share of the U.K. market rose to 38 percent from 37.9 percent. Revenue climbed 21 percent to £2.69 billion.
"Continued focus on strong international growth, linked with judicious acquisitions and robust defense of the UK market, has proved an effective strategy, leaving the group increasingly well placed for profitable growth in its chosen markets," Chairman Derek Bonham said in a statement.
Imperial (IMT) shares opened unchanged Monday at 545 pence. The company's shares were removed from the blue-chip FTSE 100 index in March.