BAT cigarettes posts sales boost from emerging markets

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British American Tobacco said on Wednesday that revenues "grew well" in the first nine months of 2010, aided by emerging markets, but cigarette volumes slid amid tough trading conditions.

The world's second-biggest maker of cigarettes added in a trading update that it was on course for good profits growth this year.

"Group revenue for the nine months grew well, driven by the favourable impact of exchange rate movements, continued good pricing and the acquisition of Bentoel in Indonesia in June 2009," BAT said in the statement.

Amid the tough trading environment, volumes were also hit by an increase in illicit trade in some markets, notably Turkey, Romania and South Africa, as well as a loss of sales in Pakistan after the floods.

The London-listed company acknowledged that overall volumes fell to 526 billion cigarettes in the nine months to the end of September, compared with 533 billion in the same period of last year.

"The challenging economic conditions, excise driven price increases and high unemployment have led to some softening of our volumes," said BAT chief executive Paul Adams in the statement.

"The recession's impact on consumers is still with us and shows no signs of abating.

"Despite this, we have increased market share in our largest markets, grown the global drive brands and achieved good growth in revenue. We are on track for another year of good earnings growth."

The company's biggest four cigarette brands comprise Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall.

In recent years, BAT has chased rapid expansion in emerging markets, snapping up Danish group Scandinavian Tobacco (ST) and Turkish firm Tekel in 2008. Bentoel was acquired one year later.

- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report -

© 2010 AFP

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