Press release; Apr 23, 2002 11:30 AM CET

Interim Report January - March 2002

  • Sales increased 8 percent to 3,317 MSEK (3,069)
  • Operating income increased 23 percent to 605 MSEK (491)
  • Income before taxes increased 20 percent to 534 MSEK (445)
  • EBITDA increased 20 percent to 776 (647)
  • EPS increased 28 percent to 1.02 SEK (0.80)
  • EPS, excluding amortization, increased to 1.22 SEK (0.98)
  • Total shares outstanding as of March 31, 2002 was 350.0 million (362.9)

Sales for the first three months increased by 8 percent, to 3,317 MSEK (3,069). Higher currency rates have affected sales positively by 2 percentage points. Organic growth amounted to 6 percent. Sales and operating income increased for smokeless products (snuff and chewing tobacco) as well as cigars and matches.

Operating income grew by 23 percent to 605 MSEK (491), with the significantly stronger performance versus sales primarily attributable to improved margins in cigars and smokeless tobacco, due to volume increases in snuff and somewhat lower marketing spending during the quarter, along with improved pricing in some markets.

Net financial expenses increased to -71 MSEK (-46). Net interest expense improved to -64 MSEK (-67).

EPS increased 28 percent to 1.02 SEK (0.80). EPS, excluding amortization on intangibles, increased to 1.22 SEK (0.98) or 24 percent.

The Board of Directors is proposing to the Annual General Meeting of shareholders an increase of the annual dividend to 1.45 SEK per share (1.35). In addition, a prolonging of the mandate to repurchase up to 10 percent of the total amount of outstanding shares is proposed. The share capital is proposed to be reduced through cancellation of 10 million previously repurchased shares.