BAT sales increase with price hikes

British American Tobacco, the world's second-biggest cigarette maker, increased its sales by seven per cent in the first nine months of the year after raising prices to offset a decline in overall demand.

The London-based maker of Kent, Dunhill, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall cigarettes said price rises, good performances from these top four brands together with the weak pound would help it see "another year of good earnings growth."

The group reported underlying cigarette volumes were down 0.4 per cent, slightly better than a 1 percent fall in the first six months of 2011.

"While the challenging economic conditions continue to impact consumers in some markets, other markets are showing signs of recovery," said chief executive Nicandro Durante in a nine-month trading update.

Overall group volumes fell 0.6 percent to 523bn cigarette in the first nine months, but its key four top brands saw volumes rise 8 percent.

The world's biggest cigarette group Marlboro-maker Philip Morris International last week reported underlying third quarter volumes rose 4.4 per cent with sales up 15.7 per cent, while Imperial Tobacco expects its cigarette volumes to fall two per cent for its year to end-September.