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Altria's MO CEO Marty Barrington on Q2 2014 Results Good day. And welcome to the Altria Group 2014 Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. Today's call is scheduled to last about one hour including remarks by Altria's management and the question and answer session. (Operator Instructions) Representatives of the investment community and media on the call will be able to ask questions following the conclusion of the prepared remarks. I would now like to turn the call over to Ms. Sarah Knakmus, Vice President of Investor Relations for Altria Client Services. Please go ahead, ma'am. Good morning and thank you for joining us. We are here this morning with Marty Barrington, Altria's Chairman and CEO; and Howard Willard, Altria's CFO to talk about Altria's 2014 business results for the second quarter and the first half. During our call today unless otherwise stated, we are comparing results to the same period in 2013. Earlier today we issued a press release regarding our second quarter results. Our remarks contain forward looking and cautionary statements and projection of future results. Please review the forward looking and cautionary statement section at the end of today's earnings release for various factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from projections. generally accepted accounting principles. Today's call will contain various operating results on both a reported and adjusted basis, which exclude items that affect the comparability of reported results. Descriptions of these measures and reconciliations are included in today's earnings release and are available on our website. Now I'll turn the call over to Marty. Thanks, Sarah. Good morning, everyone, and thanks for joining our call. In the first half of 2014, Altria delivered adjusted diluted EPS growth of 5.2% and we made good progress against our full year plans. Our company's leading premium brands and the strength of our diverse business model continue to deliver value for shareholders. Here are the highlights for the second quarter and first half of 2014. The smokable product segment delivered adjusted operating company's income growth of 3.6% in the second quarter and 4.9% in the first half, while maintaining modest retail share growth on Marlboro. In the second quarter, Marlboro achieved excellent retail share of 44 points, up 0.3 from last year. For the first half Marlboro share grew 0.1 to 43.8 share points. Adjusted operating company's income margins also increased both in the quarter and the first half with pricing as a key driver. So year to date, the smokable product segments performance has been strong. In smokeless, in the first half of 2014, USSTC focused on strengthening the Skoal value equation in part by better managing price gaps on Skoal Classic. On a sequential basis Skoal's retail share was unchanged versus the first quarter. Copenhagen and Skoal delivered second quarter retail share of 51.1 share points, up 0.4 from last year and the highest combined share since we acquired UST. For the first half, Copenhagen and Skoal delivered combined retail share of 51 points, an increase of 0.3. Operating company's income grew by 5.6% in the second quarter and 6.5% in the first half, while operating company's income margins expanded to 66.6% and 64.5%, respectively. Our smokeless business continues to perform well in the competitive environment in line with it strategies. MarkTen achieved strong distribution in over 60,000 stores. where MarkTen is distributed. Nu Mark is also making good progress integrating green smoke into its business, starting with a well established supply chain that green smoke adds to Nu Mark. Altria continued to reward shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Altria paid shareholders almost $1 billion in dividends in the quarter and nearly $2 billion in the first half. As of July 18th, our annualized dividend yield of 4.6% surpassed the S 500 yield of 2% and the 10 year treasury yield of 2.5%. We expect to return a target payout of 80% of adjusted diluted EPS in the form of dividends. In the second quarter, Altria repurchased $132 million of its common stock at an average price of $40.72. We expect to complete our current $1 billion share repurchase program by the end of the third quarter of 2014. We expect to complete this new program by the end of 2015. Timing of share repurchases depends on marketplace conditions and other factors, and of course, dividends and share repurchases remain subject to the discretion of our Board. Based on our results so far and expectations for the remainder of 2014, we are narrowing guidance for both adjusted and reported diluted EPS. We now expect to deliver adjusted diluted EPS growth of 7% to 9% in a range of $2.54 to $2.59 off an adjusted base of $2.38 per share in 2013. We also expect to achieve full year reported diluted EPS in the range of $2.54 to $2.59. We expect stronger adjusted diluted EPS growth in the second half of the year, particularly in the fourth quarter, driven by various factors, including lower fourth quarter costs in the smokable products segment due to the end of the quota by our payments and a significantly lower fourth quarter effective tax rate compared to the year ago period resulting from our 2013 debt tender offer. So, in all, we are pleased with the progress we're making against our strategies and financial goals and the momentum we are carrying into the second half of the year. Howard, will now provide additional details on the quarter and the first six months. Thank you, Marty. Good morning, everyone. Altria grew second quarter adjusted diluted EPS by 4.8%, primarily driven by higher adjusted operating company's income in the smokable and smokeless products segments, lower interest and other debt expense and fewer shares outstanding. These factors were partially offset by the investments we're making in innovative products and comparatively lower operating company's income in the financial services business. As Marty mentioned, the smokable product segments adjusted operating company's income grew 3.6% to $1.8 billion in the second quarter and 4.9% to $3.3 billion in the first half. In both periods higher pricing was the driver, partially offset by lower cigarettes shipment volume. As anticipated in the second quarter, the trade reduced inventory levels they build during the first quarter, after adjusting for trade inventory fluctuation and other factors, PM USA estimates that it's second quarter and first half cigarette shipment volume declined approximately 4% and that industry volume declined approximately 4.5% for both periods. PM USA grew total retail share by 0.3 to 51 share points in the second quarter and 0.2 to 50.8 share points in the first half of 2014. In addition to Marlboro's strong retail share, L continued to grow retail share despite declines in the industry's discount share.

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