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Philip Morris International

(PM) - Get Philip Morris International Inc Report

, the cigarette seller that was recently spun off from


(MO) - Get Altria Group Inc. Report

, topped analysts' estimates for the quarter in which it became an independent company.

For the quarter ended March 31, the company earned $1.87 billion, or 89 cents a share, up from $1.45 billion and 69 cents a share a year earlier. Net revenue rose 17.6% to $15.56 billion. Excluding excise taxes, revenue was up 14.1% to $6.33 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for earnings of 77 cents and revenue, before excise taxes, of $6.15 billion.

Cigarette shipment volume was up 2.2% for the quarter to 217.9 billion units.

"Our robust first-quarter results are a terrific start out of the gate," said Louis Camilleri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Importantly, we continue to witness an improvement in our business fundamentals as evidenced by the double-digit revenue and income growth recorded in each of our geographic segments. While we continue to face some challenges in certain markets, I am confident that we have the appropriate strategies and resources in place to deal with them effectively."

Looking ahead, Philip Morris increased its full-year earnings forecast to a range of $3.18 to $3.24 a share. Previously, it expected $3.11 to $3.17. Analysts are projecting $3.20.

Separately, the company said it has reached an agreement to acquire certain brands from

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Imperial Tobacco Group

( ITY) in a deal valued at 254 million euros ($404 million). Philip Morris said the acquisition should boost its full-year profit by about 1 cent.

Philip Morris shares were rising 3.7% to $51.92, and Altria was up 1.6% at $22.41.

Elsewhere in the tobacco group,

Reynolds American


was up 0.8%, while


( LTR), the owner of Lorillard, was unchanged.

British American Tobacco

(BTI) - Get British American Tobacco Industries p.l.c. ADR Report

was tacking on 0.3%.

This article was written by a staff member of