By Kim Jae-heun
KT&G, the country's largest tobacco company, recorded an earnings surprise in the first quarter of this year thanks to its flourishing overseas business, with robust sales of its heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products and e-cigarettes, the company said Friday.
KT&G's sales and operating profit ― excluding the revenue and profit of its subsidiaries ― soared by 11.5 percent and 10 percent, respectively, to reach 844.8 billion won ($665 million) and 272.6 billion won from the same period the year before, according to a regulatory filing.
"Our sales expansion of HNB products in both domestic and overseas markets, along with increasing export volume of our traditional tobacco products, led to the growth of the company's total revenue," a KT&G official said.
KT&G sold about 9.54 billion cigarettes in Korea in the first quarter of this year. The figure is a 0.9 percent decrease from the same period last year. However, its market share in this field also increased by 1.2 percentage points to 65.7 percent. In the HNB sector, the company's market share showed 45.1 percent.
KT&G's overseas sales volume of regular cigarettes skyrocketed by 43.8 percent to sell 11.5 billion, thanks to the export recovery in Middle East and Asia Pacific region.
Its subsidiary Korea Ginseng Corp.'s first-quarter sales this year fell 1.6 percent to record 374.1 billion won, and its operating profit decreased by 35.8 percent in the same period.