Imperial Brands has said trading for the year was in line with its expectations and reaffirmed its forecast, on the back of sustained demand, higher prices and strong adoption of tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes.
The company also announced a share buyback of £1.1 billion (€1.27 billion).
In its pre-close trading statement, the maker of Winston cigarettes and Backwoods cigars said its net revenue growth for tobacco products improved in the second half of the year, as higher prices helped offset the relatively steeper decline in volume when compared with historic averages.
It also noted that momentum is building behind its range of 'next-generation products', which experienced net revenue growth across all categories.
'The implementation of our five-year strategy is driving further improvements in operational and financial performance, and we are on track to deliver in line with our previous full-year guidance,' the UK-based company said.
'On a constant currency basis and including Russia in the prior-year comparator, tobacco and NGP net revenue is expected to grow in the low single digits and group adjusted operating profit growth to accelerate to the lower end of our mid-single digit range. At current rates, we expect foreign exchange to be a c. 2% tailwind to full-year net revenue and adjusted operating profit.'
Britain's government on Wednesday proposed banning younger generations from ever buying cigarettes, a move that would give the country some of the world's toughest smoking rules and hurt the sales of major tobacco firms.
If passed into law, the smoking age would rise by one year every year, potentially phasing out smoking among young people almost completely by 2040, a briefing paper said.
In recent years, Imperial Brands has focused on its top five markets and expanding next-generation products deemed less harmful to health.
Additional reporting by ESM