CIGARETTE SALES: Marlboro maker Altria Group's fourth-quarter profit rose about 32 percent as it commanded higher prices for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and expanded its industry-leading share of the U. S. market.
THE NUMBERS: The owner of Philip Morris USA had net income of $1.1 billion, or 55 cents per share. That's up from $836 million, or 41 cents a share, a year earlier. The results beat Wall Street expectations by a penny.
HEADWINDS: CEO Marty Barrington said customers are under economic pressure because of the end of the payroll tax holiday, as well as continuing high unemployment. Tobacco products also remain a target for tax increases as states grapple with budget shortfalls, he said.