Philip Morris stock crashes

Woot! This story made my heart warm. Philip Morris International (a company split off from Altria that focuses specifically on the tobacco market outside of the U.S.) stock dropped 18 percent on April 19, partly because sales of its iQos product — a device that heats a tobacco plug without setting it on fire — has not gone as well as projected.

For the year, PMI stock has dropped 4 percent.

PMI is such a huge player in the tobacco market that its drop affected the stocks of all tobacco companies. British American Tobacco PLC and Imperial Brands PLC dropped 5.4 and 2.9 percent respectively while Altria dropped 7.7 percent.

Oh, ouch, I hope people lose their jobs. I hope CEOs lose their bonuses. I can dream, can’t I?

According to MarketWatch, much of this is tied to the iQos and its performance in Japan. From a MarketWatch article:

Philip Morris and its rivals have spent billions of dollars in recent years to research and market tobacco heating and other new products they believe will help lure existing smokers from conventional cigarettes, whose sales are in decline globally. While tobacco companies have so far been able to offset declining volumes with rising prices, that strategy is seen as having limits, and companies are scaling back investments in traditional tobacco operations.

Japan, where Philip Morris launched IQOS in 2016, is closely watched by investors and public-health researchers as a test case for how reduced-risk products could catch on with consumers. Smoking rates in the country have plummeted after IQOS’s introduction — it has captured 16% of the tobacco market — and Philip Morris has pointed to that success as an indication of what could be achieved elsewhere.

But Thursday, the company warned that once-breakneck sales in Japan had cooled.

“Device sales were slower than our ambitious expectations,” Philip Morris Chief Financial Officer Martin King said on a call with investors. Mr. King warned of a maturing market in Japan, saying Philip Morris had run through early adopters quicker than expected and must win over “the more-conservative consumers, especially the age 50-plus smoker segment which represents approximately 40% of the total adult smoker population.”

I would love to see all these companies go belly-up. I know it won’t happen overnight, but it’s a good sign that the end of Big Tobacco could be in sight.

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