PM SNARES 51.1% OF CIGARETTES

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[new york] Philip Morris Cos., in announcing its second-quarter earnings last week, said its share of the U.S. cigarette category for the first time cracked the 50% mark.

Citing ACNielsen Corp. figures, Philip Morris said 51.1% of cigarettes sold in the second quarter were its brands, a jump of 1.5 points from the previous-year period.

Philip Morris said Marlboro, the driver of its share growth, rose 1.8 points. But, according to the marketer's internal reporting, Marlboro was up 9.7% in shipments, giving it a 34.6% share in the quarter.

The company's internal report indicated its other full-priced brands-Benson & Hedges, Merit, Parliament and Virginia Slims-were down 0.3 points.

The share jump, which Philip Morris attributed to "the timing of promotional activity and increased buying by wholesalers," follows a 21% cut in measured ad spending in the first quarter to $48.2 million, as reported by PaineWebber analyst Manny Goldman.

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