BAT beats estimates

British American Tobacco’s (BAT) first-half profit beat analysts’ estimates as smoking alternatives cushioned the continuing decline in cigarette sales, according to a Bloomberg report.

Adjusted operating profit rose 5.9 percent at constant rates to £5.21 billion ($6.32 billion). Analysts expected £5.14 billion.

Revenue from alternatives such as heated tobacco and vaping rose 27 percent. The company said it’s still on track to meet the midpoint of its full-year guidance of a 30 percent to 50 percent increase, excluding the impact of foreign-exchange rates.

BAT has a daunting task competing with Philip Morris’s IQOS and Juul, which have the most traction with consumers, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Michael S. Lavery. Product launches in the second half of the year are expected to accelerate growth, the company said.