By Melodie Warner
Altria Group Inc.'s (MO) second-quarter earnings more than doubled as higher prices increased the tobacco company's revenue faster than expected.
The company also raised the low end of its full-year adjusted earnings estimate by two cents, now projecting a range of $2.19 to $2.23 a share.
The maker of Marlboro cigarettes has seen its revenue challenged by declining cigarette volumes. But its earnings have generally improved due to increased demand for its smokeless-tobacco products, such as Copenhagen.
Altria reported a profit of $1.23 billion, or 60 cents a share, up from $444 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items such as asset impairment, exit, integration and implementation costs, earnings rose to 59 cents from 54 cents. Revenue, excluding excise taxes, jumped 14% to $4.58 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently forecast earnings of 57 cents on revenue of $4.48 billion.
Revenue from cigarettes edged up 0.8%, primarily due to higher list prices. The volume of its Marlboro cigarettes slipped 0.8%, while other premium-cigarette volume declined 8.4% and discount-cigarette volume jumped 24%.
Smokeless products revenue jumped 5.4%, reflecting higher volume and pricing.
Shares closed Monday at $35.49 and were inactive premarket. The stock has gained 35% over the past year.
Write to Melodie Warner at email@example.com
Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires