As Willie Nelson so succinctly puts it, if you've got the money, honey, I've got the time. This morning, Philip Morris International
First, for the bad news. Philip Morris didn't exactly meet analysts' estimates, delivering a reported EPS of $0.99 versus the consensus estimate of $1.01. Philip Morris still managed to increase reported EPS by 6.5% on the quarter even though operating income was down by 0.5%.
Overall volume was up 4.5% for the quarter, driven primarily by new business partnerships in the Philippines and integration of acquisitions including Swedish Match South Africa. Marlboro volume declined by 1.2% for the quarter with noted decreases in EU demand.
Philip Morris continues to leverage pricing to grow its business. Exchange rates always come into play for Philip Morris, and this time around, the company estimates that net revenue would have been up by 2.5% if currency fluctuations were excluded (actual net revenue increased by 0.4%). Again, Asia led the way in growth with an 11% gain in quarterly net revenue while the EU experienced an 11.2% drop in sales.
The good news for investors is that Philip Morris used its nearly $2.3 billion in quarterly free cash flow (a 33.6% increase) to drive investor value. The company bought back $1.1 billion in shares this quarter, increased its quarterly dividend by 10.3%, and more than doubled its balance sheet cash over the past nine months to $3.5 billion.
Just like its second-cousin Altria
Philip Morris shareholders (including the Fool itself) must be breathing a sigh of relief as last year's currency issues are history. As long as Philip Morris continues to invest in itself, increase dividends, and expand its international pull, investors should continue to keep raking in the Benjamins.
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Fool contributor Colleen Paulson does not hold positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. Philip Morris International is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. The Fool owns shares of Altria and Philip Morris International. For more investing strategies, take a look at the Motley Fool's newsletters via a 30-day free trial. The Fool has a disclosure policy.