Cigarette maker Reynolds America ( RAI) posted better-than-expected earnings -- although quarterly profit was significantly reduced by charges related to the value of its trademark.

During the quarter, the maker of Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes saw earnings plunge to $8 million, or 3 cents a share, from $505 million, or $1.71 a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding charges, earnings were $1 a share, beating analysts' forecast of 95 cents.

Reynolds said it saw a 10.5% decrease in its shipment volume to 18.7 billion cigarettes, hurt by tobacco retailers and wholesalers cutting their orders ahead of a one-time federal tax on inventory.

Tobacco sellers slashed orders when they were forced to pay a "floor" tax of 62 cents per pack on any stocked product when the retail-sales tax went into effect April 1. Sales dropped 7% to $1.92 billion from $2.06 billion.

The company expects full-year earnings in the range of $4.15 to $4.45 a share.

Reynolds, like most cigarette companies, is trying to find new ways of selling tobacco, as cigarette demand has fallen in the wake of smoking bans, health concerns and increased social pressure. The industry is focusing more on cigars and smokeless products, such as moist snuff, chewing tobacco and snus.

Last week Lorillard ( LO), which makes Newport cigarettes, said it missed analysts' first-quarter profit expectations, while Altria ( MO) posted diminished first-quarter profit due to the increased tax.

Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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