(Alliance News) - Imperial Brands PLC on Tuesday confirmed business is in line with its guidance for the first-half and its full financial year, saying both tobacco and next-generation-product revenue growth is ahead of a year before.

In a trading update ahead of its interim results, scheduled for May 15, the Bristol, England-based cigarette and vape maker also said it is on track to complete its GBP1.1 billion share buyback programme by October 29. Imperial said it has completed GBP604 million in buybacks so far under the programme, reducing its share capital by 3.7%.

"We remain committed to delivering a material reduction in the share capital base over time," the company said.

Imperial shares were down 0.4% to 1,726.00 pence early Tuesday in London, giving the FTSE 100 constituent a market capitalisation of GBP14.96 billion.

Imperial on Tuesday confirmed earlier guidance for low single-digit percentage growth in adjusted operating profit at constant currency in the six months that ended March 31. In the first half of financial 2023, adjusted operating profit was GBP1.72 billion, up 0.8% at constant currency from a year before.

The improvement in operating profit this year was supported by stronger growth in both tobacco and NGP net revenue compared to a year before, Imperial said.

NGP net revenue growth is guided at a mid- to high-teens percentage at constant currency for the first half.

In combustibles, meaning cigarettes and cigars, market share gains in the US, Spain and Australia offset declines in Germany and the UK, the company said. The five countries are Imperial's priority markets for combustibles.

Looking ahead to the second half of financial 2024, Imperial said results will be supported by price increases in its tobacco products made in the first half, plus further NGP growth. Imperial highlighted several NGP product launches, including single-use formats for its blu vape brand, new iSenzia non-tobacco heat sticks, and entry into the US oral nicotine market with the Zone range of pouches.

By Tom Waite, Alliance News editor

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