In recent quarters, Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM) hasn't served up the tip-top results that investors seek in big-name stocks. Plagued by declining volume and fluctuating currency exchange, Big Phil suffered year-over-year declines in revenue and operating income. But the tobacco seller's coughing fit may have come to an end.

For its fourth quarter, Philip Morris delivered a 9.7% revenue gain, aided by an improved currency exchange. (Revenue growth would have been 7.9% without currency fluctuations.) Pricing increases more than countered any volume declines for key brands. Operating income grew by a similar 9.7%, and earnings per share increased by 12.7%.

Overall quarterly cigarette volume actually rose by 0.5%, with growth in Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and declines in the European Union. However, flagship brand Marlboro did deliver a 3.4% volume drop as consumers in Spain and Russia turned away from premium smokes.

Key competitor British American Tobacco (NYSE:BTI) reports results in two weeks; its numbers should shed light on the overall global tobacco market. Last time around, British American recorded organic volume decline, although the company attributed that to drops in low-margin volume from recently acquired brands, rather than reduced volume in its key brands.

In comparison, Altria (NYSE:MO) has continued to post volume declines, but it has used cost cuts to deliver earnings growth. Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) served up fourth-quarter earnings declines with higher pension costs and lowered volume, but improved overall market share. Lorillard (NYSE:LO) also generated quarterly drops in earnings and volumes, while smaller Vector Group (NYSE:VGR) has yet to report its earnings for the quarter.

Obviously, the tobacco industry is volatile, subject to external factors including increasing excise taxes and a rocky economy. In spite of this, Philip Morris managed to buy up $5.5 billion worth of stock last year, and $1.3 billion in stock for the fourth quarter alone. The company also plans to kick off a new three-year, $12 billion buyback program in May, and it forecasts an increase of as much as 15% in earnings per share in 2010.

Philip Morris International is certainly being optimistic about its future, given its growth projections and stock buyback program. Now that currency fluctuations and volume declines have stabilized, it looks like the company's real-world results are starting to mirror Philip Morris's image of itself.

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Fool contributor Colleen Paulson does not hold positions in any of the stocks mentioned above. The Fool's disclosure policy is always a global superstar.