Philip Morris misses expectations but raises its full-year earnings forecast due to currency movements sending the premarket share price higher

Billy Bambrough
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Marlboro is Philip Morris' flagship cigarette brand (Source: Getty)

Philip Morris, the largest listed tobacco company in the world, has posted first-quarter earnings of $1.53bn (£1.06bn), but fallen short of analyst expectations.

First-quarter earnings per share came in at 98 cents, missing analyst consensus of $1.11 according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research.

Sales at the US cigarette giant, excluding excise taxes, fell 8.1 per cent to $6.08bn. Analysts had pencilled in sales of $6.28bn.

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Despite coming in under forecasts the company, which is working to grow its market share in electronic cigarettes, raised its full-year earnings forecast due to favourable currency shifts and hopes that declines in cigarette consumption may ease.

Earnings are forecast to reach $4.40 to $4.50 per share on current exchange rates, representing a 10 per cent to 12 per cent gain excluding the currency impact for the full year. The company had previously forecast earnings of $4.25 to $4.35 per share.

André Calantzopoulos, chief executive, said:

We expect the growth to be skewed towards the second half of this year, and the fourth quarter in particular. Our confidence is guided by moderating industry volume declines and robust pricing, underpinned by our superior cigarette brand portfolio, led by our flagship brand, Marlboro.

Cigarette shipment volumes over the first three months of the year dropped by 1.4 per cent, excluding acquisitions, to 196bn.

Read more: How Philip Morris is trying to make smoking less risky

Shares in Philip Morris rose in premarket trading by one per cent. The company's shares are up by 14 per cent in 2016, and by 18 per cent in the last 12 months.

In comparison the S&P 500 has climbed 2.5 per cent in the year to date.