Altria 2Q net income grows 3.2 pct on lower costs

Marlboro creator Altria Group is acerbic costs faster than smokers are acerbic back on its cigarettes, helping earnings edge higher. The proprietor of the nation's main cigarette maker — Philip Morris USA, said Wednesday its net income grew 3.2 percent in the second quarter on lower costs even as it sold less cigarettes. It also raised its full-year earnings guidance.

Altria, footed in Richmond, has been reining in operating cost as tax augments, smoking bans, health apprehensions and social stigma make the cigarette business tougher. The corporation said it cut costs about $129 million in the second quarter and expects to save about $290 million more by the end of 2011. Those cuts are part of a larger initiative to reduce general and developed costs by $1.5 billion compared with 2006.

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