February 12, 2015 / 7:21 AM / 3 years ago

Imperial Tobacco stands by full-year dividend goal

LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Imperial Tobacco Group reported a 4 percent decline in tobacco volumes for its fiscal first quarter, in line with the broader market, and stood by its outlook for the year.

The maker of Davidoff and Gauloises cigarettes said on Thursday that tobacco net revenue fell 1 percent in the quarter, ended on Dec 31.

Like all tobacco companies, Imperial is grappling with falling sales in a number of markets as people cut back on smoking due to tighter budgets and growing health consciousness.

It has cut costs and closed factories in its core tobacco business, and recently launched two new products that don’t use tobacco -- a caffeinated mouth strip and a new e-cigarette.

With an ongoing focus on capital discipline and debt reduction, Imperial confirmed its goal to increase its dividend by at least 10 percent this year.

The world’s fourth-largest international tobacco group is set to acquire the Maverick and Salem brands, and the e-cigarette blu, for $7.1 billion as part of Reynolds American’s $27.4 billion purchase of Lorillard. The deals were approved by shareholders but await clearance from U.S. antitrust regulators.

Reporting by Martinne Geller in London; editing by Jason Neely

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