Imperial Tobacco says it is on target for forecasts

IMPERIAL Tobacco Group said yesterday it had suffered no further deterioration in volumes in its fourth quarter.
Full-year volumes at the Lambert & Butler and Fortuna maker were down by around

the same 4.3 per cent seen at the nine-month stage, contrasting with its statement in July when it reported volumes had worsened from a 3.7 per cent drop in its first half.

The tobacco group has been hurt by volume falls in Russia, Spain, Ukraine and the United States, but expects price rises to offset that declining trend and forecasts tobacco revenue will be up three per cent in its year to end-September.

Analysts said the solid trading statement gave support to Imperial shares, which have underperformed the FTSE 100 by six per cent this year and rival British American Tobacco by almost 20 per cent.

The stock rose just over one per cent after the trading statement.