75.68 0.00 (0.00%)
After hours: 4:39PM EDT
|Bid||74.76 x 800|
|Ask||75.83 x 900|
|Day's range||74.16 - 76.61|
|52-week range||56.01 - 90.17|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.92|
|PE ratio (TTM)||16.42|
|Earnings date||20 Apr 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||4.68 (6.37%)|
|Ex-dividend date||19 Mar 2020|
|1y target est||86.33|
(Bloomberg) -- Cigarette makers may seem like an unlikely source of life-saving vaccines, yet Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco Plc are trying to devise a defense against the coronavirus from the humble tobacco leaf.BAT said Wednesday that it’s in pre-clinical testing of a plant-based vaccine via a U.S. biotech subsidiary Kentucky BioProcessing. Philip Morris has said its partially owned Canadian unit Medicago expects to start human trials for a potential vaccine this summer.“We believe we have made a significant breakthrough,” said David O’Reilly, BAT’s director of scientific research. “We stand ready to work with governments and all stakeholders to help win the war against Covid-19.”Big Tobacco isn’t a total stranger to the field: BAT’s Kentucky BioProcessing was involved in developing ZMapp, an Ebola drug, with Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. in 2014 -- but that treatment never made it out of the lab. The race to find a vaccine is essential as world leaders question how long countries can remain in lockdown without extinguishing future economic prospects.The involvement of tobacco companies in the fight against Covid-19 may strike some as paradoxical as the World Health Organization has said smoking may raise the risk of coming down with more severe reactions to the disease.Philip Morris’s Medicago uses a virus-like particle grown in a close relative of the tobacco plant. Plant-based vaccines mimic viruses and allow the body’s immune system to recognize them and create an immune response, without being able to infect or replicate.Kentucky BioProcessing recently cloned a portion of Covid-19’s genetic sequence, which led to a substance that induces the production of antibodies. The antigen was then inserted into tobacco plants for reproduction. According to BAT, the method generates the vaccine faster than conventional methods, reducing the time required from several months to about six weeks.BAT’s U.S. unit Reynolds American bought Kentucky BioProcessing in 2014 planning to use its tobacco extraction technology to develop alternatives to cigarettes. The company is now exploring partnerships with government agencies to bring the experimental vaccine to clinical studies. BAT said while the unit is a commercial business, its work on a Covid-19 vaccine will be on a not-for-profit basis.Researchers in China were quick to share the virus’s genetic sequence with other scientists, providing them with a headstart to hunt for treatments and vaccines. They are testing everything from drugs first developed for HIV and the flu to antibody-containing plasma from recovered patients.(Updates with smoking’s effect on Covid-19 patients in fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Alphabet, Procter & Gamble, Philip Morris, Novo Nordisk and Tesla
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Lloyd Bridges’s character in the disaster comedy “Airplane” captured it quite well when he said, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.” It’s a sentiment shared by people locked down around the world. While demand for most everything outside of food and toilet paper has declined, cigarettes are holding up.In an environment where companies are ditching their profit guidance left, right and center, Imperial Brands Plc, which makes Kool and Gauloises cigarettes, said on Tuesday that so far the virus had had no material impact on performance and trading remained in line with expectations. That echoes comments two weeks ago from British American Tobacco Plc. Shares in Imperial rose as much as 15%In the coronavirus-induced consumer crisis, big tobacco is certainly living up to its defensive reputation.After all, if people are addicted to nicotine, they still need their fix. And the pandemic-stricken world we live in provides incentives to light up more often: Anxiety induced by ever-grimmer headlines; the fact that local stores selling cigarettes are still open; and the ease with which you can take a fag break when working from home as opposed to having to step outside the office.But it’s not unqualified good news for the industry.Imperial, which also makes Golden Virginia tobacco, said that its factories were building contingency stocks, and its Logista distribution business serving Italy, France and Spain was doing the same to ensure supplies could get through to retailers. It’s also possible that as with rice and pasta, consumers are stockpiling cigarettes in case of even more stringent isolation measures down the road. So some demand may have been pulled forward, meaning this uptick might not be sustained in the long term.What’s more concerning is a recent focus on the increased risk of Covid-19 to smokers, and whether that may encourage more people to quit once the crisis has passed. Reports that the state of New York was in discussions about potentially banning cigarettes made headlines, but Bloomberg News reported on Monday that consideration of a ban was “100% not true.”Still, a renewed focus on personal health, especially where everyone’s lungs are concerned, would likely hurt cigarette sales in the future. These are all challenges tobacco companies will have to grapple with as they race to find what alternative product will drive growth if or when the world does kick its cigarette habit. The industry was already working to get past questions about health risks around vaping, which was last year linked with a spate of cases of respiratory illness. Groups including BAT, Altria Group Inc. and Philip Morris International Inc. have invested billions of dollars in electronic cigarettes and devices that heat rather than burn tobacco. Altria took a 35% stake in vaping leader Juul Labs Inc., which it has now written down. Right now, though, with the prospect of economic conditions deteriorating, tobacco’s resilience in the face of recession should come to the fore, especially given that traditional cigarettes remain the industry’s most profitable product. Smokers may trade down if money becomes tight, or switch to rolling their own cigarettes. But Duncan Fox, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, says that even then pure tobacco has higher margins.So from a position a few months ago, where vaping sales were under pressure, but there were worries about an accelerated decline in smoking traditional cigarettes too, Big Tobacco’s core business now looks to be on a surer footing. That’s bad for public health, and for those funds that choose not to invest in cigarettes. But at least it can help preserve the industry’s profits and chunky dividend payouts for investors, when those at many other companies are suffering.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest with assets of about $945 billion, has seen its returns eroded this year as the Covid-19 pandemic trashes equities. Its ethical approach to investing, however, may help it eventually emerge from the rout with fewer bruises than other asset managers.Norges Bank Investment Management’s equity portfolio was down about 23% through Wednesday, the fund said last week. That followed a return on stocks of 26% in 2019 that, along with its fixed income and property investments, contributed to an overall return for last year of almost 20%, the best performance since 2009.None of that was too surprising. Its equity returns act as a proxy for global stocks, which boomed last year and have plummeted in recent weeks. What stands out, though, is how the fund is starting to reap the benefits of putting environmental, social and governance considerations at the forefront of its investment decisions, while the rest of the investing crowd starts to catch up with the need for capital allocation to serve a broader aim of ranges than just corporate profitability. The details provided in the fund’s “Return and Risk” report make it possible to discern a possible pathway to success.The fund has two broad categories of companies it shuns and ejects from its benchmark calculations: Exclusions based on products discard weapons makers, tobacco companies and those that depend on coal production for their revenue; exclusions based on corporate conduct cover firms guilty of corruption, environmental damage or human rights violations. Overall, kicking miscreants out of the portfolio has boosted returns for the past two years.The impact of that stance is evolving over time. As the chart shows, swings between positive and negative contributions are getting smaller. When looked at since 2006, returns have been 1.3 percentage points lower than they would have been without the exclusions, according to the fund’s calculations. But the bulk of that underperformance is because of a rip-roaring performance by tobacco companies Philip Morris International Inc. and Altria Group Inc. for most of that time, although they’ve dipped recently.As a result, the decision to exclude tobacco producers and makers of other potentially harmful products have subtracted 2.1 percentage points from returns in the past decade and a half or so. But that only tells part of the story.By contrast, the decision to avoid companies on the basis of their conduct toward society has actually boosted returns by 0.8 percentage point since 2006, the fund calculates. Moreover, as environmental, social and governance issues have become more prevalent in portfolio construction across the industry as a whole and more fund managers adopt similar exclusion policies, the Norwegian fund is starting to see benefits from its stance on both categorizations. Last year, for example, barring companies that depend on coal for their revenue, whether by mining the fossil fuel or using it to generate power, added 8 basis points to returns; shunning tobacco companies, which fell out of favor with investors last year relative to the broader market, added a further 4 basis points.Those are small numbers given the amount of money involved. But Norway’s sovereign fund has been a trailblazer in its willingness to withhold capital from companies deemed not to share its values. If it can prove that doing good need not mean sacrificing returns, more of the asset management community might be persuaded to follow suit – for all of our sakes. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mark Gilbert is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering asset management. He previously was the London bureau chief for Bloomberg News. He is also the author of "Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL INC. ANNOUNCES TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF OPERATIONS AT MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY BOLOGNA
Readers hoping to buy Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) for its dividend will need to make their move...
Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) (NYSE: PM), a leading international tobacco company with a diverse workforce of around 73,500 people who hail from every corner of the globe, is committed to being a great employer. Demonstrating this corporate responsibility, PMI CEO André Calantzopoulos has today named Silke Muenster as its first chief diversity officer, reporting directly to him. Transitioning from her current role as vice president, Market Research at PMI, Muenster’s new position will be effective March 15, 2020, and based in the company’s operating center in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Today we'll look at Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) and reflect on its potential as an investment. In...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A quarter century ago, a man named Steve Parrish was the ugly voice of the tobacco industry. The tobacco wars were raging: States were suing the cigarette companies, whistle-blowers were leaking damning documents to the media and David Kessler, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, was trying to regulate tobacco products.Parrish was a senior executive at Altria at the time, and his job was to strike back. He would go on television and hurl insults at Kessler. He would insist that cigarettes weren’t addictive. He would denounce the mounting lawsuits in strident language.Eventually, though, Parrish realized that Big Tobacco had no choice but to negotiate with its opponents. And once he sat down with the other side, a funny thing happened. His anger dissipated when he realized that Big Tobacco’s critics were reasonable people with legitimate concerns — and that Altria, stuck in its bunker for so long, had been wrong to dismiss them. “All we knew was our own rhetoric,” he told me years later. Ultimately, those negotiations led the tobacco companies to agree to pay the states $246 billion and accept tighter restrictions on cigarette marketing.I bring this up because of something that took place last week. On Wednesday morning, Vital Strategies, a leading global public health organization, sponsored a talk titled “Hope Meets Reality: E-Cigarettes, a Public Health Harm or Harm Reduction?” The event was a one-sided assault on e-cigarettes.One speaker was Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Myers has been a critic of e-cigarettes from the start — but he’s been in overdrive ever since Juul became the e-cigarette of choice for teenagers. Its manufacturer, Juul Labs Inc., faces a host of legal woes, including a joint investigation by 39 attorneys general announced on Tuesday. (Both Vital Strategies and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids are supported financially by Bloomberg Philanthropies.)After his talk, Myers was joined on stage by another e-cigarette critic, Joanna Cohen, the director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The two of them took turns bashing e-cigarettes. Myers complained about “the few zealous people” who continued to argue that e-cigarettes could save lives; Cohen claimed that “there was some evidence of nicotine’s effect on the cardiovascular system.” And so on.Among those who had registered to attend the talk was Moira Gilchrist, the vice president for scientific and public communications at Philip Morris International. That’s right: She’s part of Big Tobacco. Gilchrist is in charge of the company’s harm-reduction efforts. The scientists she leads devise nicotine products that won’t kill consumers the way cigarettes do.Virtually everyone in the public health community is skeptical that Philip Morris is serious about transitioning the company to products that don’t rely on deadly combustible tobacco. But Gilchrist is a true believer. She joined the company a dozen years ago after working at a leading cancer charity in the U.K., she told me the other day. “This is not something we are doing for show,” she said. “This is our commercial future.”A few days before the Vital Strategies talk, Gilchrist received a note from the group disinviting her. “In accordance with our non-engagement policy, tobacco industry representatives will not be granted access,” it read. In an accompanying statement, Vital Strategies elaborated: Let us be clear: There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between public health and the tobacco industry. And as an organization whose mission is to ensure everyone is protected by a strong public health system, we at Vital Strategies align ourselves with the World Health Organization, governments around the world, and the global health community in upholding a firm non-engagement policy with the tobacco industry.As it turns out, the talk was streamed, and Gilchrist was able to watch it. When we spoke the next day, she told me that there were things that Myers and Cohen had said that she would have liked to challenge if she had been allowed in the room.For instance, the case that nicotine harms the cardiovascular system has been made most prominently by Stanton Glantz, an anti-tobacco zealot who is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. One widely quoted Glantz study published last year purported to show that e-cigarettes doubled the risk of heart attacks. But last week, the Journal of the American Heart Association retracted that study because its data was “unreliable.”As for Myers, one of the key points he made in his talk was that there was no evidence that smokeless nicotine devices were causing large numbers of adults to quit smoking but there was lots of evidence that they were hooking teenagers. Of course, part of the reason adult smokers aren’t racing to take up e-cigarettes is that the public health community has heaped such abuse on them that many adults don’t realize they are safer than cigarettes.Philip Morris doesn’t make an e-cigarette like Juul. Its product, called IQOS, delivers nicotine by heating tobacco rather than burning it. And as Gilchrist pointed out when we spoke, there is plenty of evidence that it is moving smokers away from cigarettes. In Japan, IQOS has nearly 18% of the market — not the smokeless market, but the tobacco market, including cigarettes. (“We have seen the most remarkable drop in cigarette sales,” she said.) In Russia it has 5% of the market. In Portugal 7.2%.Last spring, the FDA approved the device for sale in the U.S., ruling that it is “appropriate for the protection of public health” because it contains fewer toxins than cigarettes. Philip Morris has now submitted data to the agency as it seeks a designation that would allow it to market IQOS as less harmful than cigarettes — something e-cigarettes are not allowed to do. That would be a tremendously big deal.Gilchrist told me that there were many things public health advocates believe that Philip Morris also believes: that e-cigarettes should be kept away from youths, for instance, and that the products should be heavily regulated, based on sound science. But, she added, “what I see is that the public health organizations are using youth use as a reason to deprive 40 million U.S. smokers from having access to these products.” She added:This is the future of this company. We have the product, the science, and the will to make it work. For us, there is one path forward and it is smoke-free products. The question is whether public health wants to make it more difficult for us or less difficult.I understand why the public health community doesn’t want to legitimize the tobacco companies by meeting with them; they did a lot of shameful things in the past, and they still sell a product that kills about half its users. The memory of those old sins makes public health officials skeptical that tobacco executives like Gilchrist are sincere when they say they want a cigarette-free future.But the only way we’re going to solve the e-cigarette conundrum — namely, how do we keep the products away from youths while urging adult smokers to make the switch? — is if the two sides sit down and start talking. I think the public health officials would see — just as Parrish saw two decades ago — that those on the other side genuinely want to find a solution. At that point, the two sides could fairly easily come up with proposals that would work for everyone. The refusal to engage with the tobacco companies is actually harming public health.As I’ve noted before, one of the people who negotiated with Parrish all those years ago was Myers. It took a lot of guts; when his allies in the public health community discovered that he was involved in the tobacco settlement talks, he was roundly denounced. But he stuck with it and helped change the cigarette landscape for the better. If only he were willing to do it again, he could hasten the end of cigarettes.(Corrects the given name of Stanton Glantz, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, in the 11th paragraph. A previous update added an announcement of an investigation into Juul Labs Inc. in the fifth paragraph. )To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.