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RICHMOND, VA. (

TheStreet

) --

Altria

(MO) - Get Altria Group Inc Report

may have puffed out a profit in the third quarter, but got little help from actual cigarette sales.

In response, shares in the company were dropping in early morning trading Wednesday, falling to $18.17, a drop of more than 2.5%.

During the quarter, the maker of tobacco brands Marlboro, Skoal and Copenhagen earned $882 million, or 42 cents a share, compared with $867 million, or 42 cents, in the year-ago period. That amounts to profit growth of 1.7%.

Excluding costs related to its UST acquisition and other items, the company actually earned 48 cents a share, higher than the 46 cents analysts expected.

Revenue climbed 20% to $6.3 billion from $5.24 billion, but excluding an excise tax on products, it actually sank 11% to $3.73 billion. Analysts predicted revenue excluding excise taxes would be $4.66 billion.

The company raised the low-end of its full-year guidance to $1.74 to $1.77 a share, up from its prior outlook of $1.72 to $1.77 a share.

Rivals

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Reynolds American

(RAI)

and

Philip Morris International

(PM) - Get Philip Morris International Inc. Report

are set to report their quarterly results on Thursday.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York. Sung Moss contributed to this article.

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