Altria Profit Rises Above Expectations

Altria reported Thursday third-quarter net earnings of $1.397 billion, or 71 cents a share, up slightly from $1.396 billion, or 70 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted per-share earnings came in at 69 cents, topping the FactSet consensus analyst estimate of 68 cents. The cigarette and tobacco products company's revenue slipped 0.9% from last year to $6.49 billion, as a 1% rise in smokeable product sales was offset by a 3.9% drop in smokeless tobacco sales. Altria also affirmed its 2014 adjusted earnings-per-share outlook of $2.54 to $2.59. "We grew adjusted diluted EPS 6.2% in the third quarter behind strong income performance by our smokeable products segment, our companies' leading premium brands and the strength of our diverse business model," said Chief Executive Marty Barrington. The stock, which was inactive in premarket trade, has climbed 24% so far this year through Wednesday, while the S&P 500 has gained 7.2%.

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