Philip Morris International Inc., which sells Marlboro and other brands abroad, is expected to report higher profit and revenue when it releases its first-quarter results before the market opens on Thursday. Whether cutting costs and raising prices continued to help PMI compensate for consumers buying fewer, or cheaper, cigarettes has investors anticipating the announcement.
Cigarette shipments rose about 3 percent to 233.1 billion in the fourth quarter that ended in December, and it market share rose in a number of key markets, according to a story in The Washington Post.
Shipments grew 7 percent in the company’s region that encompasses Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but fell about 6 percent in the EU as the region continues to be under pressure due to high unemployment and the continent’s government debt crisis. Shipments also fell about 1 percent in Latin America and Canada.
In Asia, one of its largest growth areas, shipments grew nearly 6 percent. The company benefited from increases in Japan following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The events offered the company a sales opportunity because supply disruptions led Japan Tobacco Inc., the world’s No. 3 tobacco maker, to stop shipping cigarettes within Japan.
Philip Morris International also bought the Philippines company Fortune Tobacco Co. in February 2010, bolstering its Asian business.