LONDON (CNNfn) - Britain's Imperial Tobacco Group PLC felt the benefit of last year's purchase of cigarette brands in Australia and New Zealand as it reported a 13 percent rise in annual profit Monday, citing swift growth in international sales.|
Pretax profit for the year ended Sept. 30 rose to £450 million ($630 million), in line with analysts' expectations, from £400 million a year earlier. Net profit rose to £323 million from £287 million.
Total sales by the maker of the Regal, Embassy, Superkings and JPS brands increased 16 percent to £5.2 billion.
While revenue in the U.K. was nearly stagnant at £3.6 billion, sales overseas jumped 78 percent jump to £1.7 billion, helped by a combination of price increases and the first full-year contribution of the Australian and New Zealand brands - Horizon, Brandon, Flagship and Peter Stuyvesant Ė that it bought in 1999 from British American Tobacco PLC (BATS).
Shares in Imperial (IMT) were up 2.2 percent at 738.369 pence in early London trade.
Units outside the U.K. †contributed some 40 percent of total operating profit of £560 million, up from 36 percent the previous year.
Imperial blamed U.K. tobacco taxes for the difficult conditions in the British market, where its market share is 38 percent, making it the country's second largest cigarette maker.
U.K. duty-paid cigarette sales fell by some 10 percent to 58 billion cigarettes.
"We are trying to grow the international side as fast as possible and this side is looking very promising," Chief Executive Gareth Davies was quoted as saying by Reuters.
--from staff and wire reports