Altria to close Franklin Park tobacco facility

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Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, said Thursday it will close two of its manufacturing facilities by early 2018, affecting about 580 workers. | AP Photo

RICHMOND, Va. — Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, said Thursday that it will close manufacturing facilities in Franklin Park and another in Pennsylvania by early 2018, affecting about 580 workers.

The company said about 200 jobs in different states will be available for those workers, if they choose to transfer. Altria did not say how many workers it expects to lay off. Full-time workers that do not transfer will be given a minimum of six months of severance, in addition to benefits and free job training, a spokesman said.

The Franklin Park factory has 300 workers and makes Copenhagen, Skoal and other smokeless tobacco products. The factory in Limerick, Pennsylvania, has 280 workers and makes Black & Mild cigars, Middleton’s Cherry Blend pipe tobacco and other products. Operations in Franklin Park will be moved to Nashville, Tennessee; the Pennsylvania operations will be moved to manufacturing sites in Richmond, Virginia, where Altria is headquartered.

Workers were told about the closures Thursday morning, an Altria spokesman said.

The closures are expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2018 and would save Altria about $50 million by the end of that year.

The announcement came as Altria, which also makes Virginia Slims and Parliament cigarettes, reported a 29 percent drop in profit for its most recent quarter, but its adjusted earnings still beat expectations. It reported net income of $1.09 billion, or 56 cents per share, in the three months ending Sept. 30, compared with $1.53 billion, or 78 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 82 cents per share, beating the 81 cents per share Wall Street analysts expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $5.19 billion in the period.

Altria said it expects full-year earnings in the range of $2.98 per share and $3.04 per share. Analysts expected earnings of $3.03 per share for the year, according to FactSet.

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