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BAT Reports Higher Profit, but Sees Slower Growth

British American Tobacco, the world's second-biggest cigarette maker, beat forecasts with a 9 percent rise in nine-month earnings but said on Thursday it still expected slower fourth-quarter growth.

Chairman, Jan du Plessis said in a statement he still expected "growth in profit from operations at comparable rates of exchange to slow in the fourth quarter, as a result of generally higher marketing spend and the timing of price increases in Brazil."

London-based BAT, which makes Dunhill, Kent, Pall Mall and Lucky Strike cigarettes, posted adjusted diluted earnings per share of 82.0 pence for the first nine months of 2007, compared to an analysts' average forecast of 80.6 pence and a range of 80.0 pence to 81.4 pence.

The world's No. 2 cigarette maker after Altria said cigarette volumes fell 1 percent in the period after a 2 percent fall in the first-half, while nine-month operating profits rose 19 percent to 2.30 billion pounds ($4.77 billion).

At the half-year stage, it said full-year volume growth was likely to be flat compared to the group's long-term 1 percent to 1.5 percent target range, after a 2 percent rise in 2006.

BAT targets high single-digit percentage earnings per share growth over the medium term. It has an on-going 2007 share buyback of 750 million pounds.