The cigarette wars took a toll on
bottom line, as the company reported a fourth-quarter loss on a 5% sales dip.
The Winston-Salem, N.C., company lost $59 million, or 69 cents a share, on sales of $1.41 billion in the latest quarter, compared with earnings of $89 million, or 93 cents a share, on sales of $1.48 billion.
The company has been coping with an influx of cheap cigarettes, and as a result saw its product mix skewed toward its discounted brands, hurting profitability.
On an "ongoing" basis that excludes various items, the company earned $36 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with $169 million, or $1.77 a share, last year. On that basis, the company earned slightly more than analysts were predicting in the latest quarter.
The shares were recently down 2.8% to $41.80.