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Philip Morris beats Street adjusted EPS estimates in Q3, lowers FY'19 guidance

Philip Morris International Inc. reported third-quarter adjusted diluted EPS on Oct. 17 that beat Street expectations and lowered its full-year guidance reflecting a Russian tax dispute.

New York-based Philip Morris reported adjusted diluted EPS of $1.43 for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down 0.7% from the year-ago period but above the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus normalized EPS estimate of $1.36.

Philip Morris lowered its full-year GAAP diluted EPS forecast to at least $4.73, down from the previous forecast of at least $4.94 and less than $5.08 in 2018. The full-year guidance reflects a charge of about 20 cents per share related to an excise tax and value-added tax audit in Russia.

The Russian audit alleged that some intercompany sales involving Philip Morris' Russian affiliate for the 2015-2017 financial years were improper under Russian tax law, the company said. Philip Morris objected to these allegations, but Russian tax authorities issued a final tax assessment in September claiming an underpayment of 24.3 billion rubles, or about $374 million. Philip Morris is considering whether to challenge the final tax assessment before a mid-September 2020 deadline.

The full-year guidance assumes a total cigarette and heated tobacco unit shipment volume decline for Philip Morris of about 1% to 1.5% on a like-for-like basis, a change from the previous expectations of a 1% decline. The change mainly reflects the impact of earlier-than-initially-anticipated price increases in select markets, Philip Morris said in its earnings release.

Philip Morris' projection for full-year adjusted, or non-GAAP, diluted EPS of at least $5.14, or $5.28 excluding foreign currency exchange impacts, remains unchanged from the previous quarter, according to the company.

Net earnings attributable to Philip Morris came in at $1.90 billion, down 15.6% from $2.25 billion in the same quarter of 2018. Analysts expected the cigarette-maker to post $2.11 billion in GAAP net income, according to Market Intelligence.

Revenue for the third quarter increased 1.8% year over year to $7.64 billion.

Philip Morris reported a 5.9% decline year over year in cigarette shipments during the third quarter to 183.52 billion total, while heated tobacco shipments increased 84.8% over the same quarter in 2018 to 15.99 billion. Combined volumes fell 2.1%, Philip Morris said.

Shares in Philip Morris jumped 1.1% in early trading Oct. 17 to $80. The company reported earnings before the U.S. market opened.

As of Oct. 16, US$1 was equivalent to 64.17 Russian rubles.