Tobacco outfit

Universal

(UVV) - Get Report

said Tuesday that for its second quarter ended Sept. 30, earnings fell 88.3% from the year-ago period, hurt by a loss on sale of its non-tobacco business.

The Richmond, Va.-based company earned $3.1 million, or 9 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $26.5 million, or $1.03 a share, a year ago. The company earned $28.3 million, or 92 cents a share from its continuing operations in the most recent quarter.

Second-quarter revenue rose 6.7% from a year ago to $629.7 million.

"The remainder of the fiscal year is expected to benefit from stronger shipments from Africa and continued strong results in the United States, especially as we realize more of the savings from the Danville plant closure which was completed in fiscal year 2006,'' the company said. ''We are reducing our 2007 crop production in Brazil, which caused an increase in bad debt provisions related to accounts receivable from farmers during the first six months of the fiscal year. These provision increases in Brazil shouldnotcontinue during the second half of the current fiscal year."

Operating income for the current quarter rose to $55.8 million, compared with $55.3 million a year ago. However, operating margin declined 50 basis points to 8.9%.

By segment, second-quarter revenue from the tobacco business increased 8.1% from a year ago to $545.8 million and revenue from agri-products fell 2.2% to $83.8 million.

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