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Philip Morris Reaffirms Earnings Expectations

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Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Altria Group Inc Report

affirmed previous earnings projections for fiscal 2000 through 2003 and said it expects to complete the acquisition of

Nabisco Holdings


by the end of the year.

Philip Morris said it expects full-year 2000 underlying earnings of $3.71 a share, in line with the nine-analyst estimate on

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First Call/Thomson Financial

. The company earned $3.30 a share in the year-ago period.

The company also remains comfortable with its projected earnings per share growth rate of 11% to 13% through 2003, excluding the acquisition of Nabisco. The company also reiterated plans to make an initial public offering of between 10% and 15% of the combined


and Nabisco company in the first half of 2001.

Shares of Philip Morris were recently up $1.38, or 3.9%, to $36.63 in

New York Stock Exchange

composite trading.