Cigarette seller Altria Group Inc.'s stock climbed 1.4% in premarket trade Wednesday, after the cigarette seller reported second-quarter profit and sales that rose above expectations. Net earnings rose to $1.45 billion, or 74 cents a share, from $1.26 billion, or 64 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share of 74 cents beat the FactSet consensus of 71 cents. Revenue increased 5.7% to $6.61 billion, with smokeable products revenue growing 6.5% to $5.97 billion. Revenue net of excise taxes increased 6.7% to $4.9 billion, above the FactSet consensus of $4.75 billion. Altria lifted its full-year 2015 adjusted EPS outlook to a range of $2.76 to $2.81 from $2.75 to $2.80, and set a new $1 billion stock repurchase program. Chief Executive Marty Barrington said Altria's brands "continued to strengthen their market leadership, with record retail share on Marlboro and more than 51% combined share on Copenhagen and Skoal year-to-date." The stock has climbed 10% over the past three months, while the S&P 500 has slipped 0.7%.
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