Imperial Tobacco trading hitting forecasts

Imperial Tobacco, the world's No.4 cigarette group, said its cigarette volume were in line with the 4.3 per cent fall seen at its 9-month stage as its financial performance stayed in line with its own expectations.

The group, which acquired Franco-Spanish group Altadis in January 2008, said its global key cigarette brands continued to perform well with Davidoff and West volumes growing and Gauloises Blondes' performance improving in the second half.

"We continue to drive shareholder returns through our enhanced focus on sales, ongoing cost optimisation and the effective use of our cash and I am pleased with our financial delivery given the challenging environment in a number of markets this year," said Chief Executive Alison Cooper in an end of year trading statement.

In July, the Bristol-based group reported its cigarette volumes fell 4.3 per cent in the nine months to end-June, which was a worsening from the 3.7 per cent decline in the first half, hurt by falls in Russia, Spain, Ukraine and the United States.

In April, the group, which also makes Lambert & Butler, Gitanes, and Fortuna cigarettes, said it was looking towards a better second half as the recovery kicked in, saying second-half volumes should stabilise.

Imperial, the world's No 4 cigarette group after Marlboro-maker Philip Morris International British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco will report its annual results for the year to end-September on 2 November.