KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — British American Tobacco (M) Bhd (BAT) shares plunged as much as RM2.44 or more than 7 per cent in trade this morning after the cigarette manufacturer announced yesterday that its net profit fell to RM479.69 million in financial year ended December 31, 2017 compared to RM732.07 million a year earlier.
In an exchange filing , BAT said revenue fell to RM3 billion from RM3.76 billion a year earlier.
Despite the lower net profit and revenue, BAT declared a dividend of 43 sen a share, bringing its FY17 dividend payout to to RM1.69 per share from RM2.78 per share a year earlier.
This morning, BAT shares fell to their lowest so far at RM30.44.
At 12pm, the counter stood at RM30.56 to become Bursa Malaysia’s top decliner.
The stock saw 860,000 shares changing hands.
MIDF said that the sharp decline in the company’s profitability was attributable to rise in illegal cigarettes sales which ate into its profits.
The research house has upgraded its recommendation on BAT shares to “buy” from “neutral” but with a lower target price of RM41.10 versus RM44.40 previously.