Imperial Brands to cut dividend, sees bigger COVID-19 hit in second half

(Reuters) – Tobacco group Imperial Brands Plc (IMB.L) on Tuesday said it plans to cut its dividend by a third as it seeks to save cash and pay down debt during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expects a bigger hit from the crisis in the second half of the year.

The maker of Winston and Gauloises cigarettes reported slightly lower-than-expected first half revenue and sees a low-single-digit hit to earnings per share for the full year.

The company blamed curbs on international travel hurting duty free sales and placing restrictions on its manufacturing facilities, crimping production capacity and efficiencies. The company also said that more people have been buying cheaper cigarettes.

The Bristol-based company reported tobacco and next generation products revenue that fell 0.9% on a constant-currency basis to 3.59 billion pounds ($4.40 billion) for the first half of the year. Analysts on average were expecting 3.6 billion pounds, according to a company supplied consensus.

Adjusted earnings per share came in at 103 pence, broadly in line with estimates.

“We are disappointed with these results, and we remain fully focused on all opportunities to strengthen performance,” joint Chief Executive Officers Dominic Brisby and Joerg Biebernick said in a statement.

($1 = 0.8159 pounds)

Source – Reuters