Cigarette maker Lorillard 4Q profit grows 20 percent

Cigarette maker Lorillard Inc. said Thursday that its net income grew nearly 20 percent in the fourth quarter as it sold more cigarettes at higher prices.

The nation’s third-biggest tobacco company said it earned $310 million, or $2.32 per share, for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, up from $259 million, or $1.74 per share, a year ago. The per-share figure was boosted by a lower number of shares outstanding.

Lorillard HD

The corporate headquarters of Lorillard Tobacco in Greensboro, North Carolina

Lorillard, based in Greensboro, said adjusted earnings that exclude a benefit from expenses related to a tobacco settlement were $2.20 per share, beating analyst expectations of $1.94 per share. Revenue excluding excises taxes rose about 10 percent to $1.12 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected revenue of $1.09 billion.

Lorillard was bucking industry trends as broader cigarette volumes declined, CEO Murray Kessler said in a conference call with investors.

The number of cigarettes Lorillard sold rose about 6 percent to 9.8 billion.

Lorillard’s retail market share rose 0.8 points in the quarter to 14 percent of the U.S. market.

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