British American Tobacco (BAT) has reported a ten per cent rise in first-quarter earnings, with strong sales in Brazil and South Africa boosting the cigarette maker's performance.
The manufacturer of Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes reported adjusted diluted earnings per share of 24.31p in the three months to March 31st, ahead of analyst expectations.
In a statement the company also revealed that its profit from operations was up 11 per cent over the quarter to £684 million, or by six per cent excluding exceptional items.
"We have started the year with strong growth in both revenue and operating profit at comparable rates of exchange, as a result of improved pricing and cost savings," said BAT chairman Jan du Plessis.
"In addition, the first quarter has been somewhat flattered by excellent performances in Brazil and South Africa."
However, the tobacco firm chief warned that adverse exchange rates were likely to impact upon the company's full-year results.
BAT, which has been hit by the recent weakening of the US dollar against the pound, said that first-quarter revenues were down three per cent to £2.23 billion over the period.
The company said that good performances across Latin America helped offset the weakening of local currencies, with BAT increasing its profits by £25 million to £180 million across the region.
BAT's profit grew "strongly" in Brazil as a result of higher margins and volumes and an increased market share as a result of the efforts of authorities to combat the illicit trade in tobacco.
Despite a weaker than average exchange rate for South Africa, BAT said it also achieved "excellent" profit growth in South Africa as a result of "significant" trade buying and securing a rising share of the market.