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Marlboro maker's earnings nicked by charges

Altria Group Inc. on Wednesday said quarterly profit fell 6.9 percent, weighed down by one-time charges at its Kraft Foods business and increased exposure to airline industry losses at its financial services unit.
/ Source: Reuters

Altria Group Inc. on Wednesday said quarterly profit fell 6.9 percent, weighed down by one-time charges at its Kraft Foods business and increased exposure to airline industry losses at its financial services unit.

Profit for Altria — the maker of Marlboro cigarettes and majority owner of Kraft Foods Inc.  — was $1.95 billion, or 94 cents a share, compared with $2.09 billion, or $1.02 cents as share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, earnings from continuing operations were $1.08. Analysts on average forecast $1.06 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 8.8 percent to $22.38 billion. Philip Morris USA shipped 47.1 billion cigarettes in the quarter, up 1.5 percent.

Altria also forecast 2005 earnings of $4.95 to $5.05 from continuing operations.

Philip Morris USA effectively raised the price of Marlboro and three other brands by 10 cents a pack in December, the first increase in 2-1/2 years, which analysts said should help 2005 profit.