By Maximilian Clarke

Imperial Tobacco (LSE: IMT) have delivered a 4.4% increase in operating profit on the back of a 3.7% increase in revenue.

Revenue, grown on the back of increased market share of the company’s leading brands, which include Davidoff, Gauloises, Ebmassy and Superkings, rose to £29.2bn, paying dividends per share of 95.1p.

Strong sales growth among emerging markets helped offset economic challenges in Europe, particularly in Spain where the company last year entered a price war with local rival tobaccos, leading to diving profits.

"This good performance reflects the strength of our total tobacco portfolio and our ability to use this unique asset to drive sales and profit growth across our international footprint. I’m particularly pleased with the overall growth in our key strategic brands Davidoff, Gauloises Blondes, West and JPS,” Alison Cooper, Chief Executive.

"We mitigated the impact of difficult conditions in Spain with gains elsewhere in the EU and excellent growth in the emerging markets of Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Our focus on capitalising on consumer growth segments continues to be supported by disciplined portfolio and capacity investments.

"The strength of our performance has enabled us to grow earnings per share by 5 per cent and reward our shareholders with a very strong 13 per cent dividend increase.

"I’m focused on maintaining our sales momentum and see significant growth opportunities ahead. Our commitment to sales excellence combined with effective cost and cash management will enable us to continue maximising returns to our shareholders."

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