Cigarette makers Philip Morris International Inc and Reynolds American Inc posted higher-than-expected quarterly profits and raised their 2010 earnings forecast, showing the strength of the tobacco business even in a weak global economy.
Higher cigarette prices helped lift earnings at both companies. Philip Morris, which sells Marlboro cigarettes outside the United States, was helped by higher prices and strong shipments in markets like Japan and Russia.
Reynolds American, which sells Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes and Grizzly smokeless tobacco in North America, also benefited from cost-cutting moves.
The results come a day after Philip Morris USA parent Altria Group Inc raised its forecast for the year after the first half of 2010 went better than expected.
Philip Morris International, the world's largest non-state-controlled tobacco company, said profit was $1.98 billion, or $1.07 a share, in the second quarter, compared with $1.55 billion, or 79 cents a share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average forecast 97 cents a share, according Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company expects earnings $3.75 to $3.85 a share for the year, compared with its forecast a month ago of $3.70 to $3.80.
Reynolds American said profit for the quarter was $341 million, or $1.17 a share, in the second quarter, weighed down by plant-closing costs, compared with $377 million, or $1.29 a share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, earnings were $1.32 a share, compared with the average analyst estimate of $1.30, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Reynolds expects earnings, excluding one-time items, to be $4.90 to $5.05 a share, up from its previous forecast of $4.80 to $5.00 Analysts on average forecast $4.92 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
(Reporting by Brad Dorfman; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Derek Caney)