Lorillard's 3Q Smokes Estimates; Shares Rise

Lorillard (NYSE:LO) revealed a 17% increase in third-quarter profits on Monday, sending the cigarette maker’s stock 3% higher to 52-week highs.

The Greensboro, N.C.-based maker of Newport cigarettes said it earned $274 million, or $1.81 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $235 million, or $1.44 a share, in the year-earlier period. Analysts had been looking for EPS of just $1.64.

Overall sales climbed 10% to $1.57 billion. Excluding excise taxes, revenue jumped 14% to $1.07 billion, topping the Street’s view of $1.01 billion. Gross margins rose from 34.4% to 36.1%.

The No. 3 U.S. cigarette maker said its domestic wholesale shipments increased by 5.8% last quarter and its domestic retail market share stood at 12.9%.

“Lorillard and its flagship brand, Newport, continue to outperform the industry,” CEO Murray Kessler said in a statement. "I had always admired Lorillard as an outsider and, as a result, had high expectations walking in the door. Those expectations have been significantly exceeded as I have gotten to know the business and the talented people that work at the company.”

Shares of Lorillard climbed 2.8% to $86.46 Monday morning and hit a 52-week high of $87.47. The stock has climbed almost 5% year-to-date.