Consumers don't seem to mind puffing away their money -- or, alternately, smoking away their economic woes -- which was good news for cig-maker Altria ( MO).

The seller of Marlboro cigarettes and Black & Mild cigars posted a 9% jump in second quarter earnings, boosted by cost cuts, the acquisition of a smokeless tobacco maker, and improved sales of both cigarettes and cigars.

The good news prompted Altria to lifts its full-year outlook.

During the quarter, the company earned $1.01 billion, or 49 cents a share, compared with $930 million, or 45 cents, in the year-ago period. Excluding exit costs related to plant closings and other items, its earnings were 50 cents per share. Analysts had expected a profit of 47 cents.

The company's revenue shot up 33% to $6.72 billion from $5.05 billion. Altria attributed the gain to a federal excise tax increase and its purchase of smokeless tobacco-maker UST in January.

Altria managed to lower corporate expenses to $50 million from $73 million.

Like most cigarette makers, Altria raised prices earlier this year ahead of a federal tax increase, and it seems as a result its Philip Morris brand lost some market share.

Philip Morris shipped 40.6 billion cigarettes during the quarter, down 6.8% from last year.

Looking ahead, the company now expects to earn between $1.72 and $1.77 a share during the year, up from its previous guidance in the range of $1.70 to $1.75 a share.
Copyright 2009 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.