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Philip Morris Q4 beats Street as sales rise 9%

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Cigarette maker Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM) saw its fourth quarter earnings beat Street estimates on Thursday, as higher prices and more shipments boosted revenues.

For the three months that ended December 31, the company posted net income of $1.89 billion, or $1.08 per share, up 7.6 percent from $1.75 billion, or $0.96 per share, a year ago.

Adjusted for certain one-time items, earnings rose 13.4 percent to $1.10 per share, beating analysts' $1.09 per share estimate for the fourth quarter, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Total revenues for the period increased nine percent to $7.67 billion, from $7.04 billion, above the $7.4 billion forecast.

"While admittedly lifted by Japan, our 2011 results were simply superb in each and every aspect," said CEO Louis C. Camilleri.

"Every single one of our top ten brands recorded volume growth, we surpassed all of our key financial performance measures and grew our global market share for the fourth year in a row.

"Our total shareholder return in 2011 was an impressive 39.8%, substantially outperforming the broader market indices."

Total revenues in the European Union (EU) increased 0.7 percent to $2.21 billion, while rising five percent in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EEMEA) to $1.97 billion.

Revenues in Asia spiked 25.7 percent to $2.65 billion, more than offsetting a 1.9 percent decline in Latin America and Canada revenues of $844 million.

Revenues during the quarter were boosted by $260 million in favourable pricing in the European Union (EU), the Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EEMEA) and the Latin America and Canada units.

In the Asia region, pricing was slightly unfavourable due to the 2010 inventory reevaluation in Japan, the company said.

Revenues were also helped by $319 million in favourable volume and product mix, especially in Asia, and particularly in Indonesia and Japan, though offset in the EU, especially in Italy and Spain.

Total shipments increased 0.7 percent to 226.6 billion units, driven by growth at the company's top ten brands, which collectively represented 75 percent of all shipments.

Also during the quarter, Philip Morris said it repurchased 14.5 million shares of its common stock for a total of $1.0 billion.

The company has also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.77 per share, up 20.3 percent. This represents an annualized rate of $3.08 per share.

"Economic uncertainty, currency volatility and the year-on-year comparison of our business performance in Japan are obvious challenges in 2012," Camilleri continued.

"We nevertheless begin the year with solid business momentum, confident in our ability to meet our constant currency financial growth targets, and as steadfast as ever in our commitment to reward our shareholders with superior returns over the long-term."

For the 2012 year, the company expects earnings between $5.25 and $5.35 per share. Adjusted for currency exchange and other one-time items, earnings are expected to rise between 10 and 12 percent.

In the full year fiscal 2011, Philip Morris posted earnings of $8.6 billion, or $4.85 per share, up 18.3 percent. Revenues increased 14.3 percent to $31.1 billion.

In New York, shares of the New York-based company rose 3.34 percent to $80.48, as of 12:14 pm EDT.

Quick facts: Philip Morris International

Price: 78.07 USD

NYSE:PM
Market: NYSE
Market Cap: $121.58 billion
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