Gallaher posted a jump inpre-tax profits meeting analysts expectations.

The maker of Camel, Hamlet cigars and Condor tobacco said underlying pre-tax profit before exceptionals and amortisation for the year ended December 31 rose 15.7% to £455m. Analysts had forecast £450m - £458m.

Total sales jumped 47.3% to £8,422m boosted by a full 12-month contribution from Austria Tabak, the firm which it bought in late 2001.

Gallaher’s UK turnover - with brands such as B&H and Silk Cut - increased by 0.9% to £3,720m reflecting increases in UK government duty and the company’s own price increases, offset partly by a 0.5% drop in volumes to 21.4bn cigarettes.