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British American Tobacco pretax profit, sales grow

British American Tobacco PLC said Thursday that 2019 pretax profit rose as revenue grew, and that 2020 results will be weighted toward the second half of the year.

The tobacco company–which houses a number of electronic and vaping products as well as traditional cigarettes–said that pretax profit was 7.91 billion pounds ($10.24 billion) compared with GBP8.35 billion for 2018.

Revenue was GBP25.88 billion compared with GBP24.49 billion the year before.

The company–which houses the Kent, Dunhill and Lucky Strike brands–said it expects adjusted revenue growth at constant rates of exchange in the 3% to 5% guidance range, together with continued operating margin improvement.

BAT said it anticipates the global industry cigarette and tobacco-heating products volume in 2020 to fall around 4%.

The FTSE 100-listed cigarette-maker declared a dividend of 210.4 pence a share, a 3.6% rise on the year before.

"Looking into 2020, we are confident of another year of high single-figure adjusted constant-currency earnings growth," Chief Executive Jack Bowles said.

WPP sees flat sales in 2020 after rough quarter

WPP PLC said Thursday that it expects like-for-like net sales to be flat this year after posting a sharper-than-anticipated fall for the fourth quarter of 2019.

The London-based advertising giant said like-for-like net sales–a closely-watched measurement of its underlying operating performance–for the quarter returned to negative territory with a 1.9% decline after a 0.5% rise in the third quarter. Analysts had forecast a 0.8% decline for the fourth quarter, according to a consensus gathered by Vuma and based on seven analysts’ forecasts.

WPP said like-for-like net sales fell 1.6% including its market-research unit Kantar.

For 2019 as a whole, like-for-like net sales fell 1.6%, or 1.2% including Kantar. This compares with WPP’s guidance of a decline of between 1.5% and 2.0%.

The company said it expects an improvement in like-for-like net sales over 2020. Analysts expected a 0.4% increase for 2020, according to a Vuma-compiled consensus.

Pretax profit fell to 928.1 million pounds ($1.20 billion) from GBP1.26 billion on revenue that grew to GBP13.23 billion from GBP13.05 billion, WPP said. Net profit fell to GBP62.7 million, it said.

Norway wealth fund observing, not acting on, coronavirus situation -CEO

OSLO, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is so far only observing the development of the coronavirus and is not actively steering its investments to mitigate any impact it might have on its portfolio, the fund’s chief executive said on Thursday.

“This is a type of risk that is hard for us to analyse… we only observe what happens,” outgoing CEO Yngve Slyngstad told a news conference. (Reporting by Victoria Klesty; editing by Gwladys Fouche and Terje Solsvik)

‘Fire Up A Bowl, Numb Out!’: Tucker Carlson Joins Right-Wing Reefer Madness

Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night attempted to dismiss Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) vow to legalize marijuana if he is elected president. And the Fox News host may have accidentally created a new meme of himself in the process. 

During the Democratic debate in South Carolina this week, Sanders slammed the “horrific” war on drugs for sending too many people ― disproportionately minorities ― to prison for low-level offenses. 

“Ohhhhh, the war on drugs,” Carlson said. “Bernie Sanders talks about that in every speech he gives.” 

Carlson added: 

“A declining country with a sad, underemployed middle-class obviously needs to smoke a ton more weed. That’s Bernie’s solution to the malaise. Fire up a bowl, numb out, maybe you won’t notice.” 

Naturally, the line was already clipped and shared: 

Carlson’s comments came a day after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) claimed the Democratic platform involved “reefer for everyone” ― a mock campaign promise his critics seemed to relish.

The Fox News host also blasted Sanders for his plan to help minority-owned businesses to break into the sale of legal marijuana so the fledgling industry wasn’t dominated by big corporate interests. But Carlson claimed Sanders just wants “more black kids to sell drugs.” 

See the full segment below: 

Two more coronavirus cases in UK bring total to 15

LONDON (REUTERS) – Two further cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the United Kingdom, bringing the total number of cases to 15, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Thursday (Feb 27).

“The virus was passed on in Italy and Tenerife and the patients have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres in Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, London,” the statement said.

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Malaysia's parliament to decide next PM: Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s interim prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday said the king has decided to call on parliament to decide who has enough support to become the next prime minister.

But if no one is able to prove a majority, then there will be snap elections, he said.

Watch | KTM 390 Adventure first ride and review

Video review of KTM 390 Adventure

With increasing success of its rather stripped-down but sporty models, KTM has made waves in the Indian market. Here we have another one from the KTM stable – the KTM 390 Adventure. So does the new machine on two wheels match up to expectations? And what’s special about it? Watch to find out…