BAT Q3 profits to be fired up by Rothmans
British American Tobacco Plc is set to report higher third quarter 1999 profits, boosted by the first contribution from its acquisition of Rothmans, but the smoke has yet to settle after its share's two-day tumble.
The world's second largest cigarette company which markets such brands as Lucky Strike, State Express 555 and now Rothmans, is expected to report nine-month operating profits on October 26 of 1.33-1.40 billion pounds after last year's 1.26 billion.
Analysts said on Friday that the underlying trading picture across the world has improved for BAT since the first half of 1999, but trading in the third quarter is still below last year's Q3 after stripping out the Rothmans effect.
BAT shares have slipped over the last two days after a Florida court ruling on Wednesday in a class-action tobacco lawsuit raised the prospect of another multi-billion payout by cigarette companies over smoking-related illnesses.
Florida's state appeals court refused to shelter U.S. tobacco companies from punitive damages, in a follow-up trial to a sweeping liability verdict last July, for as many as one million sick smokers. BAT's Brown & Williamson division is one of the top three cigarette companies in the U.S.
BAT shares were off 25 pence at 391p by 1100 GMT after a 54p fall on Thursday.
BAT announced the acquisition of Rothmans in January to create a 13 billion pound global giant and put it within striking distance of world nunber one Philip Morris (NYSE:MO - news), but only completed the deal in June and started to incorporate Rothmans's profits in its own third quarter.
One analyst said Rothmans would boost BAT Q3 profits by 226 million to give a pre-tax nine month profits figure of 1.09 billion after 966 million pounds previously.
Compared to the first half of 1999, analysts said BAT will benefit from less severe price discounting in the U.S, a decrease in excise tax in Brazil, but in its Asia Pacific region trading in China continues to be difficult.
In August, BAT launched a 4.2 billion pound bid to buy out the other shareholders in Canada's Imasco Ltd (Toronto:IMS.TO - news) to boost BAT's current 42 percent stake, a move that extends BAT's strategy to focus solely on tobacco, which started in September 1998 with the demerger of its UK and U.S. insurance interests.