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Vector Group Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Stocks in this article: VGR

Our focus in 2012 continues to be building volume and share growth on our PYRAMID brand while increasing year-over-year profit growth. We are pleased to have achieved those goals for both the second quarter and first half of 2012, and as we look ahead, despite a challenging marketplace, we are confident that our business is heading in the right direction. We will discuss our financial results and tobacco performance in more detail in a moment.

Before turning to the financials, I want to briefly update you on tobacco litigation and specifically, the Engle cases in Florida. The Engle progeny cases remain the primary focus of our litigation activity with 5,649 cases pending in both federal and state court. We, along with the other industry defendants, continue to believe that the Engle process is materially florid and unconstitutional. Having said that, the appellate efforts overturn the Engle findings have not been successful. The intermediate appellate courts have been willing to overturn adverse verdicts on discrete issues of law, where we have punitive damages that exceed constitutional limits but have uniformly upheld the application of the Engle findings in the Engle progeny cases.

Just recently, however, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to review the Douglas case, a case were Liggett was a defendant. This will be the first Engle progeny case to be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court. Overall, while we believe we have strong arguments, as evidenced by several defense verdicts in the state cases, there is still considerable risk as these cases go to trial and we remain subject to the ongoing process and periodic negative judgments.

Turning now to Vector's balance sheet. Our liquidity remains strong with cash and cash equivalents of approximately $208.7 million as of June 30, 2012. Additionally, as of June 30, 2012, the company held investment securities and partnership interest with a fair market value of approximately $90.9 million.

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