Marlboro cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc
reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by its Asian, Latin American and Canadian markets, and backed its 2009 earnings forecast, sending its shares up more than 1 percent.

The company, whose overseas sales value has been hurt by the stronger U.S. dollar, said cigarette shipment volume of 203.4 billion units was unchanged, with gains in Asia -- driven by Indonesia and Korea -- and Latin America and Canada.

The world's largest publicly traded tobacco company said it expects 2009 earnings of $2.85 a share to $3 a share. In February, Philip Morris said that the stronger dollar would cut earnings by 80 cents a share in 2009.

Philip Morris was spun off from Altria Group Inc in 2008 to give shareholders a straight play in the global cigarette market, uncoupling it from the shrinking U.S. cigarette market.

But since its sales come from outside the United States, it is more vulnerable to fluctuations in the dollar than other U.S. companies.

First-quarter earnings at Philip Morris were $1.52 billion, or 74 cents a share, compared with $1.72 billion, or 79 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 69 cents a share, before special items, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company's cigarette shipment volume of 203.4 billion units was unchanged in the quarter.

Net revenue fell about 6 percent to $5.6 billion.

Philip Morris shares were up about 1.4 percent, or 50 cents, at $36.75 in trading before the opening bell.

Shares of Altria Group Inc rose 15 cents to $17 in premarket trade.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; Editing by Derek Caney, Dave Zimmerman)