LONDON (Reuters) - British American Tobacco (BATS.L) said on Wednesday that trading so far this year was in line with expectations for challenging conditions in a number of key markets.
The company, in the process of buying out Reynolds American RAI.N and on course to become the world's biggest listed tobacco company, said this year's profit growth will be weighted towards the second half of the year, as it was in 2016.
"I am confident of another good year of constant currency earnings growth," Chairman Richard Burrows said at the company's annual general meeting, according to a statement.
BAT, home to the Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarette brands, wants to double the number of countries where it sells e-cigarettes and other vaping products this year to around 20 markets, and to double it again in 2018, as it races against Philip Morris (PM.N), which expects to have its iQOS heated tobacco device in as many as 30 markets by the end of this year.
Regarding its new e-cigarette line, Vype Pebble, launched in Britain and Italy in December, BAT said "early signs are very encouraging".
It said its heated tobacco product, Glo, which launched in the Japanese city of Sendai in December and earlier this month in Switzerland, was exceeding expectations. It said the product gained 6.5 percent of the market by volume at a leading Sendai convenience store chain after only 18 weeks.
Reporting by Martinne Geller; editing by Susan Thomas