updated 10/25/2006 10:35:34 AM ET 2006-10-25T14:35:34

Altria Group Inc., the world's largest cigarette maker, reported Wednesday that third-quarter profit fell 0.3 percent, results dampened by slower international sales and higher restructuring charges.

While the company upgraded its earnings guidance for the full year, its stock dropped 37 cents a share in opening trading, falling to $79.45.

Altria, which also owns a majority stake in Kraft Foods Inc., reported net income of $2.87 billion, or $1.36 per share, compared with $2.88 billion, or $1.38 per share, in the same period last year. Excluding certain restructuring and other costs, the company reported earnings per share of $1.39 compared to $1.37 last year.

The company increased its guidance for full-year earnings per share to a range of $5.48 to $5.53, up from a previously discussed range of $5.40 to $5.50.

Wall Street expected earnings of $1.41 per share, a consensus prediction of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Revenue rose 3.7 percent to $25.88 billion from $24.96 billion last year.

"Our third-quarter results were in line with our internal expectations and we remain on track to meet our earnings target for the full year," Chief Executive Louis C. Camilleri said. "Our income performance during the third quarter was adversely affected by Philip Morris International's continued challenges in Spain and the anticipated inventory depletion in Japan following the July 2006 price increase."

Spain adopted tough anti-smoking laws in January, including higher taxes on cigarettes and a ban on smoking in the workplace.

Investors also anticipate an announcement from the company's board, which was scheduled to meet Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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