$8bn share buy-back by Morris

The shares of tobacco giant Philip Morris rose sharply on Wall Street after the company announced plans for a three-year $8bn share buy- back programme and a three-for-one stock split.

In late afternoon trade the company's shares were up $2.50 at around $136, down slightly from an all-time high of $136.75 set immediately after the buy-back announcement.

Philip Morris said it planned to launch the buy-back programme after its current programme of $6bn in share buy-backs is completed, probably in the first quarter of this year.

S&P analysts said they were maintaining their "still accumulate" note on Philip Morris but added they saw "very strong" fundamentals carrying the company forward to a 12-month target price of about $160 a share.

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