Tobacco, Nabisco, Help Philip Morris Increase Earnings

By BridgeNews Higher earnings from its tobacco businesses and the addition of Nabisco to its Kraft Foods arm helped Philip Morris Cos. Inc. report first-quarter earnings that were slightly better than analysts expected. The New York-based company, behind such diverse products as Marlboro cigarettes, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and Miller High Life beer, reported underlying net earnings of $2.1 billion, up 2.2% from a year earlier. The profit amounted to 95 cents per share, up 6.7% from a year earlier and 1 cent higher than the average forecast from analysts. Operating revenues rose 11.6% to $22.4 billion. The net profit was $2.096 billion, up from $2.009 billion a year earlier. The company said it remains confident that full-year earnings per share will grow by 9% to 11%. An increase of that size would give Philip Morris earnings per share of between $4.09 and $4.16 for 2001. Analysts expect earnings of $4.07 per share. The domestic tobacco business reported underlying operating income of $1.2 billion, up 7.7% from a year earlier even though shipment volumes fell 2.3%. International tobacco reported an underlying operating profit of $1.6 billion, up 4.6% from a year ago. Shipment volume increased 2.6%. The North American food business had underlying operating income of $1.2 billion, up 25.1% from a year ago, primarily because of the acquisition of Nabisco.

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