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PMCR: Comments from uninspiring conference call

31.8.2006 9:20

PMCR’s CEO commented on 1H2006 figures yesterday during a conference call. There was no possibility to ask question concerning dividend policy, listing/delisting and earnings guidance. Besides financial figures as such, CEO mentioned development in Czech and Slovak market. In both countries super low price segment gained on significance, which hurt low price segment where traditional “Start” brand is placed. Medium price segment still represent about 1/3 of total PMCR’s shipments. However premium segment which delivers highest margins is under certain pressure. In Slovakia PMCR introduced roll your own cigarette products to fight against possible threat of increased illicit products after January 2006 excise tax hike there. Absorption of excise tax hike has been moderate in Slovakia. PMCR is currently good placed with its product portfolio in all segments on both markets. PMCR’s export counts not only cigarettes but also intermediate products for other PMI affiliates; however margins on these exports are low.

CEO reiterated that PMCR is quite vulnerable to hording effect, therefore pushing on government to pass pre-stocking regulation. Obviously political situation and time plays against PMCR.

Our view:
The conference call didn’t put a lot more light on PMCR business going forward. We still believe revenues in 2H2006 to be under pressure, mainly due to materialization of excise tax increase in Czech Republic and Slovakia. Nonetheless we expect only moderate absorption of excise tax hike and more shift on consumer not uniquely in lower price segment but also in medium and premium one. Please note that our fair value is under review and should be available in short time.

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