(MO) - Get Report

said second-quarter earnings rose 1.5% from a year ago, as solid gains in cigarette sales were offset by a loss on the sale of discontinued operations.

The tobacco and food giant earned $2.67 billion, or $1.28 a share, in the quarter, compared with $2.63 billion, or $1.27 a share, last year. Revenue rose 8.3% from last year to $24.78 billion, while cost of sales rose 6.6% to $9.13 billion and the company's excise tax obligation ballooned 13.7% to $7.46 billion.

On a continuing operations basis, Altria posted an 11.7% year-over-year earnings improvement to $2.9 billion, or $1.40 a share. The company cited revenue gains at Phillip Morris and Phillip Morris International; a preponderance of charges in the year-ago quarter; and favorable currency translation.

For all of 2005, Altria expects to earn $5 to $5.10 a share, up a nickel from its previous forecast. It cited the impact of an acquisition, a 10-cent gain from the repatriation of overseas earnings, plus additional expenses related to a reduction in an estimate for currency translation gains.

The company's many special items complicate comparisons to analyst estimates. According to Thomson First Call, Wall Street expected Altria to earn $1.34 a share in the second quarter and $5.12 a share for 2005.