Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, the world’s fourth-largest tobacco group by sales, Wednesday posted a fall in first-quarter revenue and volumes on tough comparisons, hit by a trade ban in Syria and de-stocking.
“Delivering the planned acceleration in our underlying sales momentum whilst continuing to realize cost and cash opportunities remain our priorities,” Chief Executive Alison Cooper said. The maker of Lambert & Butler, Gitanes Blondes and JPS cigarettes said tobacco revenue, excluding foreign exchange effects, fell 1% year-on-year in the three months to Dec. 31, while total volumes fell 7%.
Excluding foreign exchange effects and the impact of Syria, Spain, the U.S. and Ukraine, tobacco revenue grew 3%, with volumes down 1%.
Imperial’s investment priority is to further build its position in growth markets such as Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, which show rising adult and middle-class populations.
Imperial Tobacco shares closed Tuesday at 2270 pence, valuing the company at £22.9 billion.