- Tobacco giant Imperial Brands reported a rise in annual profit as revenue ticked higher on market share gains amid increased tobacco spend during lockdown measures imposed across several countries.

For the year ended 30 September, pre-tax profit climbed to £2.17 billion from £1.69 billion year-on-year, as revenue rose 3.1% to £32.6 billion.

'It would appear smokers have chosen to allocate more of their discretionary spend towards tobacco,' the company said. 'Market share gains driven primarily by lower value markets; we grew share in three of our top give markets.'

Tobacco volume declined 2.1% but this was a 'significant' improvement on last year's 4.4% reduction.

Next generation products including vaping reported an adjusted operating loss of £323 million, compared with a profit of $224 million and included £124 million write-downs in inventory and IP with an additional £29 million write-down in the second half.

The company said it expected the 'moderated' level of loss to continue in 2021.

The annual dividend was 137.7 pence per share, down from 206.6 pence after the company announced a re-base of the dividend earlier this year.

Looking ahead, Imperial Brands said it expected to deliver low to mid-single digit growth in organic adjusted operating profit at constant currency, excluding the impact of the Premium Cigar sale.

Tobacco pricing was expected to remain strong although with some ongoing mix headwinds and with lower stock profits, while the duty free channel was likely to remain depressed for much of the year, it added.

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