British American Tobacco plc  ( BTI) posted stronger-than-expected full year earnings and boosted its dividend as the group prepares to close its $50 billion takeover of Reynolds American  ( RAI)
 
BAT said full-year diluted earnings per share came in at 247.5 pence each, an 18.8% increase from 2015 and ahead of the FactSet consensus of 242 pence. Full year revenues, however, were marginally shy of analysts' forecasts, coming in at £14.751 billion against a £14.88 billion estimate.
 
"The group delivered exceptional earnings, volume and market share growth in 2016, despite challenging trading conditions persisting in many of our Key Markets," said Chairman Richard Burrows. "Our results this year demonstrate our ability to continue delivering excellent shareholder returns while investing in the future strength of the business."

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