Tag Archives: Altria

Slumping cigarette sales prompts R.J. Reynolds-Lorillard to talk merger

reynolds

A very interesting story about major changes in the works in the tobacco industry.

The No. 2 tobacco company in America — R.J. Reynolds — is in talks to buy the No. 3 tobacco company in America — Lorillard (which I have misspelled Lollilard more times than I can count.). Imperial Tobacco is also involved in the deal.

This deal would create a $56 billion company and would create a monster rival to the dominant No. 1 tobacco company in America — Altria, otherwise known as Philip Morris (its dominant brand is Marlboro, of course).

Reynolds and Lorillard would combine for 42 percent of the cigarette market, joining Reynolds’ big product — Camel — what Lorillard’s — Newport. Other Lorillard brands are Kent and Old Gold, while other Reynolds’ other brands are Pall Mall, Winston, Salem and Kool. But, Camel and Newport are the dominant brands.

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The new joint company then would sell off several of their smaller brands to Imperial Tobacco, a British-owned company that would then become the No. 3 company in America.

According to the New York Times, declining cigarette sales are driving this move, as both companies work to restore their past profits. E-cigs are also a factor in this deal, as the e-cig industry is booming (got mixed feelings about that), and Lorillard owns the No. 1 e-cig brand, Blu E-Cigarettes.

According to the New York Times:

Still, a takeover of Lorillard by Reynolds would represent the industry’s boldest response yet to a declining, if still profitable, market. A general drop in smoking rates and aggressive public health campaigns aimed at curbing smoking have cut into sales in the United States.

About 42 million people in the United States, or nearly 18 percent of the adult population, smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That compares with about 21 percent of the adult population nearly a decade ago and 43 percent of the adult population in 1965, according to the C.D.C.

What remains of the traditional cigarette industry is dominated by Altria, whose Philip Morris arm sells one out of every two cigarettes in the United States.

Opportunity has beckoned in the new business of e-cigarettes. A deal by Reynolds to buy the leading purveyor of e-cigarettes could spur other mergers within the industry as manufacturers jockey for position.

“This transaction in our view will be very positive for the global tobacco industry and could be just the beginning of future transactions with e-cigs/vapor being the underlying catalyst,” Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a note.

Anyway, interesting story as the industry adjusts to a rapidly changing and evolving market. This deal is not cast in stone, as it must be approved by federal regulators and could face scrutiny over

Philip Morris profits down 8 percent in second quarter 2013

philip morris

Oh, happy day. Philip Morris (Altria), the No. 1 private cigarette manufacturer in the world, saw its profits drop a dramatic 8 percent in the second quarter of 2013, mostly due to lagging sales. Philip Morris shares dropped 2.5 percent as a result.

Here’s what is interesting. We all know the sales of cigarettes is down, so at first blush, this doesn’t seem to be a big surprise.

What IS a big surprise? The biggest reason for the drop in profits is the drop in sales of Philip Morris brands (mostly Marlboro) overseas.

One thing a lot of people may not realize is that while cigarette sales have been obviously dropping the U.S., the tobacco industry has weathered the storm just fine, mostly by expanding its overseas markets in burgeoning smoking regions such as India,  the Philippines and Africa. Philip Morris is blaming a sluggish economy overseas:

According to USAToday:

The cigarette maker reported earnings of $2.12 billion, or $1.30 per share, in the quarter ended June 30, down from $2.32 billion, or $1.36 per share, a year ago.

Excluding excise taxes, revenue fell 2.5% to $7.9 billion despite higher prices. Costs to make and sell cigarettes rose more than 1% to $2.7 billion.

Cigarette shipments fell about 4% to 228.9 billion cigarettes as it saw volume declines in all of its regions. Total Marlboro volumes fell nearly 6% to 72.4 billion cigarettes.

Philip Morris International said economic woes in the European Union and increased excise taxes drove shipments down nearly 6% during the quarter. Shipments fell 3.6% in the company’s region that encompasses Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Shipments also fell 2.4% in Latin America and Canada.

In Asia, one of its largest growth areas, the company said that cigarette volume fell 3.5%, hurt by a recent tax increase in the Philippines, which saw a 16.5% decline in shipments.

Smokers face tax increases, bans, health concerns and social stigma worldwide, but the effect of those on cigarette demand generally is less stark outside the United States. Philip Morris International has compensated for volume declines by raising prices and cutting costs.

Anytime the tobacco industry is hurting that is great news. Perhaps its a bad economy, but maybe smoking bans, higher taxes and lower smoker rates in other countries is having an effect, as well. Of course, Philip Morris would never admit THAT.