Lorillard 1Q Profit Rises on Cigarettes

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Lorrillard Inc., maker of Newport, Maverick and True cigarette brands, saw first-quarter profit climb 26 percent thanks to rises in domestic product shipments and prices, The Associated Press reported.

In addition, higher federal excise taxes on tobacco products boosted revenue. Revenue was up, totaling $1.36 billion, compared to $917 million a year ago, as domestic wholesale shipments of discount brand Maverick grew 48.7 percent, the AP reported.

The nation's third-biggest cigarette maker's earnings reached $232 million for the quarter ended March 31. The comparable quarter in 2009 saw earnings of $184 million, the AP reported. The $1.50 per share earnings beat the $1.22 per-share profit estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Excluding a charge of $287 million related to the April 1, 2009, federal cigarette tax increase, revenue was $923 million, due to higher average prices, reduced promotions and increased net unit sales volume.

Many smokers traded down to cheaper brands during the recession in a bid to save money, and Lorillard's Maverick brand and Reynolds American Inc.'s Pall Mall cigarettes have been among the beneficiaries, the report stated.

"We have achieved these results despite challenging market conditions," Chairman, President and CEO Martin Orlowsky said in a statement cited by the AP.

Lorillard said its total shipments grew 12.1 percent, with domestic wholesale shipments increasing 12.7 percent during the quarter. Domestic wholesale shipments of its Newport menthol brand were p 9.8 percent for the first quarter, the AP reported.

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