Altria Group's

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third-quarter earnings fell 67% but rose on an adjusted basis as the company's cigarette business delivered strong results.

Altria reported third-quarter earnings of $867 million, or 42 cents share, compared with earnings of $2.6 billion, or $1.24 a share, a year earlier. The year-earlier period includes earnings from discontinued operations of $1.7 billion, or 81 cents a share.

On an adjusted basis, earnings rose to 46 cents a share from 40 cents a share a year earlier and topped the estimates of analysts polled by

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by 2 cents.

Sales rose by 5% to $5.2 billion.

Altria reaffirmed its 2008 guidance for earnings from continuing operations at $1.63 to $1.67 a share.

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