- Tobacco giant Imperial Brands offered a more cautious outlook after its annual results fell short of expectations, as its vaping unit was hurt by regulatory uncertainty in the US and slowing growth in Europe.

The company also announced that Therese Esperdy, currently senior independent director, would succeed Mark Williamson as chairman, effective 1 January 2020.

For the year ended 30 September, pre-tax profit fell to £1.7bn from £1.8bn a year earlier as revenue rose 5.1% to £31.6bn, with tobacco volumes down 4.4%.

The next generation products (NGP) division, which included vaping, generated revenue growth of 52.4%, but that missed management expectations.

Given the increased uncertainties in NGP, the company said it had reduced and reprioritised its NGP investment behind the markets and categories with 'the best prospects for sustainable and scalable growth.'

Imperial Brands declared an annual dividend of 206.58p per share, up 10% on-year.

'We have taken a more cautious approach to our outlook for 2020, with low single-digit revenue and earnings per share growth expected, excluding any impact from the divestment programme,' the company said.

'Performance is expected to be weighted to the second half as the benefit of our NGP reset takes effect through the year.'

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