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Philip Morris 1Q profit falls nearly 2 pct

RICHMOND, Va. – Cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. said Thursday that its first-quarter profit fell nearly 2 percent on a decline in the number of cigarettes sold.

The company, based in New York and Switzerland, also lowered its full-year earnings guidance because of changes in foreign exchange rates.

Philip Morris International sells Marlboro and other cigarette brands outside of the U.S., so its results reflect smoking trends abroad. It's the world's second-biggest cigarette seller behind state-controlled China National Tobacco Corp.

Profit came to $2.13 billion, or $1.28 per share, in the quarter ended March 31, down from $2.16 billion, or $1.25 per share, a year ago. Stripping out one-time items, profit was $1.29 per share, missing analysts' estimate of $1.34 per share.

Excluding excise taxes, revenue increased nearly 2 percent to $7.6 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $7.5 billion. Volumes dropped while cigarette prices rose.

Costs to make and sell cigarettes rose 2 percent to $2.45 billion.

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