Imperial Tobacco says returns to profit in second half

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Britain's Imperial Tobacco, maker of Lambert & Butler and Gauloises cigarettes, announced Tuesday that it bounced back into the black in the second half of the group's financial year.

Imperial said in a results statement that it made a net profit of 689 million pounds (1.058 billion dollars, 793 million euros) in the six months to the end of March. That compared with a net loss of 149 million pounds in the same part of the previous fiscal year.

Revenues meanwhile climbed by eight percent to 13.37 billion pounds in the first half.

"In the first half of 2010 we again demonstrated the resilience of our business and the success of our enhanced sales strategy (and) achieving further gains with our strategic brands," said Chief Executive Gareth Davis.

He noted that the group had enjoyed "an excellent performance in a challenging environment."

Davis added: "We made gains with our global cigarette brands Davidoff, Gauloises Blondes and West, with particularly good results in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Central Europe.

"This was complemented by a strong performance from our portfolio of regional and local brands."

Davis, meanwhile, is due to retire next month and will be replaced by Alison Cooper, who is currently Imperial Tobacco's chief operating officer.

Under the stewardship of Davis, Imperial snapped up Altadis for about 19 billion dollars in 2008, creating Europe's second-biggest tobacco company behind Altria Group's Philip Morris.

© 2010 AFP

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