• U.S. Shelves Plan to Sharply Cut Nicotine in Cigarettes

    U.S. Shelves Plan to Sharply Cut Nicotine in Cigarettes

    (Bloomberg) -- U.S. regulators are hitting the brakes on plans to force tobacco companies to drastically reduce addictive nicotine in cigarettes, retreating on an ambitious public-health initiative that comes amid increasing worry about nicotine use among young people.The Department of Health and Human Services has dropped a proposal unveiled two years ago to cut the level of nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, according to a regulatory document published on Wednesday.Abandoning the plan, which almost certainly would have meant a sharp reduction in tobacco sales, would be a major victory for the tobacco industry. The move also comes at a time when public debate is focused on the potential for e-cigarettes to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.Representatives for the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Shares of Altria Group Inc., the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, closed up 3.2% in New York. Philip Morris International Inc. was little-changed.In a notice posted on a government website earlier this year as part of the Food and Drug Administration’s near-term regulatory goals, the agency said that the policy “would have significant public health benefits for youth, young adults, and adults, as well as potentially vast economic benefits.”That goal, once included as part of the “unified agenda” of regulations the government is working on, is no longer listed on the website, which was updated Wednesday as part of a semiannual review.FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said that the removal of the plans “does not mean the agency does not consider them a priority or will not continue to work on their development.”“The agency has focused on regulations that reflect its most immediate priorities,” Felberbaum said in an email. “FDA continues to gather evidence and data on an ongoing basis regarding all tobacco products.”Ambitious PlanIn 2017, then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he wanted to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes and other burnt tobacco to near-zero. Almost half a million people in the U.S. die each year from tobacco-related causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the move was hailed at the time as a potentially monumental public-health decision. One estimate published in the New England Journal of Medicine projected it could save 2.8 million lives by 2060, and millions more in later decades.“If the FDA abandons its plan to limit nicotine levels in cigarettes, it will miss an unprecedented opportunity to improve health and save lives,“ said Matthew Myers, president of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.The proposal also shocked Wall Street, sending stocks of tobacco giants including Altria plunging as investors reconsidered whether people would bother smoking a cigarette without the addictive chemical. The move was paired with a decision -- later reversed -- to give e-cigarette makers extra time to keep their products on the market without regulation.Gottlieb left the FDA before the nicotine policy could be seen through. Altria later bought a $12.8 billion stake in e-cigarette market leader Juul Labs Inc., a hedge against declining smoking rates.“The effort to lower nicotine in cigarettes is a central part of our effort to reduce death and disease from tobacco,” Gottlieb said in response to a request for comment from Bloomberg. “It’s critical we all maintain our commitment to these public health goals.”Another former FDA commissioner, Robert Califf, said on Twitter that the change marked “a sad day for future grandchildren. They will have fewer grandparents because of this.”Altria spokesman Steven Callahan declined to comment.The update to the U.S. regulatory agenda was published on the same morning that a Senate panel was considering the nomination of Texas oncologist Stephen Hahn to be the new head of the FDA. At that hearing, Hahn was peppered with questions about the agency’s approach to the e-cigarette industry. This year, government data has shown a surge in use of e-cigarettes by teens, and thousands of Americans have suffered serious lung injuries after vaping.The Trump administration had vowed tough curbs on flavored vaping products in September. Since then, however, the president has signaled any effort to clear the market of flavored products that appeal to young people is on hold.The FDA’s oversight of the tobacco industry was the product of a pitched political battle that began in the 1990s and culminated in a 2009 law giving the agency oversight of cigarettes and other smokeless products.Recently, some administration officials have questioned the FDA’s role in regulating tobacco. Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, earlier this month called the FDA’s regulation of tobacco “a huge waste of time” and said the agency should focus on pharmaceuticals.(Updates with estimate on potential lives saved in ninth paragraph)\--With assistance from Tiffany Kary.To contact the reporter on this story: Drew Armstrong in New York at darmstrong17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Dan Snyder Makes a Bundle Mismanaging the Redskins

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s a grim time in Washington, and not just because of the impeachment hearings. The Washington Redskins, for decades the city’s most beloved institution, are simply awful.So far this season, they’re 1-9, and with six games left, they’ll be lucky to win another. Last Sunday they were thoroughly outplayed by the lowly New York Jets, losing 31-17. That loss prompted the Washington Post’s great sportswriter Thomas Boswell to declare that, with the Washington Nationals winning the World Series this year and the Washington Capitals the Stanley Cup in 2018, Washington no longer lives and dies by the Redskins.The game photograph that accompanied Boswell’s column showed something that has rarely been seen at Redskins games: lots and lots of empty seats.Everyone in Washington knows exactly who to blame for this state of affairs: 54-year-old billionaire owner Dan Snyder. After making his fortune with a marketing business (he eventually sold it for $2.1 billion), Snyder bought the Redskins in 1999 for $750 million. In the subsequent 20 years, they’ve had six winning seasons, eight last-place finishes, and exactly two playoff victories — and the last one was in 2005.Snyder has hired bad coaches and fired good ones. He’s made terrible free-agent signings. He would sometimes dictate to his coaches who to bench and who to play. In early October, when Snyder fired head coach Jay Gruden five games into the season, Mark Cannizzaro, the New York Post’s pro football columnist, wrote, “If the Redskins owner truly wanted what was best for his franchise, he would have fired himself.”But why would he? Despite Snyder’s 20-year record of football ineptitude, he’s made a boatload of money as the team’s owner. Last year, according to Forbes, which publishes annual rankings of sports franchises, the Redskins had $120 million in operating income(1)on $493 million in revenue. Among the 32 teams in the National Football League, only six teams earned more. Forbes also ranks the Redskins the seventh-most-valuable franchise, with an estimated valuation of $3.2 billion. (The Dallas Cowboys are ranked first with a $5.5 billion valuation.) Last year, despite another losing record, the team still rose 10% in value, according to Forbes.Which leads to the obvious question: Does it even matter whether Snyder — or any other pro football owner — has a winning team or a losing one? From a financial standpoint, the answer, plainly, is no. As the sports consultant Marc Ganis told me, “NFL teams don’t lose money.”This is in large part because the NFL has a “share the wealth” philosophy. (Or to put it the way the late Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell once did, the NFL is run “by a bunch of fat-cat Republicans who vote socialist on football.”) The NFL has multiyear, multibillion-dollar contracts with CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and DirecTV. That money is equally divided among the 32 teams, along with certain marketing and licensing deals negotiated by the NFL. In 2018 that pool of money amounted to $8.1 billion, or $255 million per team.The biggest expense for any team is player contracts. But don’t forget the salary cap, which places a limit on how much any NFL team can collectively pay all the players on its roster. It is currently $188.2 million. Michael Ozanian, who compiles the sports franchise rankings at Forbes, told me that when you include insurance, pensions and the like, most teams pay well over $200 million in salary-related expenses. Even so, the national TV contract alone more than covers the owners’ biggest expense.Then there’s gate revenue. In the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, the home team keeps all the money generated from ticket sales. In the NFL, the visiting team gets 40 percent of the gate. The Redskins, for instance, had $43 million in gross ticket sales last year, and netted $28.5 million after giving the visiting teams their cut.All told, about 75% of the revenue that a team gets comes via money that is shared among all the teams. That still means that the other 25% has to be self-generated. Here is where you would think the Redskins would have a problem, given the way they’ve alienated their fans.But you would be wrong. One of the first things Snyder did after buying the team was cut a $205 million, 27-year deal with FedEx Corp. to change the name of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, from Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to FedEx Field. (Cooke owned the team from 1974 until his death in 1997.) Snyder has since plastered FedEx Field with corporate sponsorships. In 2002, he cut a deal with Diageo Plc, the big liquor company, to put billboards in FedEx Field; they were strategically located to make sure that TV cameras would have to show them.The median ticket price for a Redskins game is $235. By one estimate, when you throw in parking and food, two people will pay $567 to attend a game, the ninth-highest cost for attending a league game. Snyder charges for fans to attend preseason practices (he charges for parking, too). He has come up with all kinds of schemes to extract fees from fans: fees to cut the security line on game day, for instance, or to get season tickets ahead of people who had signed up earlier. Indeed, all those empty seats may be held by season ticket holders who decided not to bother going to the game.One area where revenue has fallen for the Redskins is their haul from premium seating and luxury suites. In 2016 and 2017, that number was around $70 million, according to league data. More recently, it has dropped to around $65 million. It is hard to know whether that’s a function of the Redskins’ losing ways or the result of the elimination of the 50% tax deduction for client entertainment expenses that was part of the 2018 tax bill (corporations have traditionally liked booking suites to entertain clients).Of course, what smart team owners understand is that the best way to field a winning team is to hire really good football minds — and get out of their way. Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, was a meddler like Snyder in the early years of his ownership. But once he hired Bill Belichick as his head coach, he stopped getting involved in most football decisions.Twenty years in, it seems unlikely Snyder will ever learn that lesson. Redskins fans loathe him and most other NFL owners view him as a lightweight. But given the NFL’s business model, none of this matters. Most likely, Snyder will keep wrecking a once-great franchise while he keeps raking in the profits. Why should he change when there’s no consequence?(1) Forbes defines operating income as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 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/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: JPMorgan Chase, Altria, ConocoPhillips, The Travelers Companies and Twitter

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  • Monster Beverage Gains 19% YTD: Strategic Efforts on Track

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  • Investing.com

    StockBeat: Canopy Growth Back on Buy List, BofA Says

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  • Altria Rises 4%

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  • Fat Tire Brewer New Belgium Bought by Kirin in Latest Craft Deal

    Fat Tire Brewer New Belgium Bought by Kirin in Latest Craft Deal

    (Bloomberg) -- New Belgium Brewing, one of the world’s largest independent breweries, agreed to be acquired by a unit of Japan’s Kirin Holdings Co., the latest craft beer maker to be snapped up in an increasingly competitive market.Lion Little World Beverages, a craft beer division of Kirin-owned Lion, will acquire the Colorado-based brewery in an all-cash deal, giving the Japanese company bigger exposure to the U.S. market. The price wasn’t disclosed.New Belgium, known for its Fat Tire Amber Ale, is the fourth-largest independent beermaker in the U.S. and the 11th largest brewer overall, according to 2018 data from the Brewers Association. The brewery is owned by its more than 700 employees and has distribution in all 50 U.S. states.The brewery is among the most iconic in the country, and was one the firms at the forefront of the scene as craft beer went from basement hobby to serious business. A team of then-husband-and-wife Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan founded the brewery in 1991, seeking to expose American consumers to the varied tastes of Belgian beers experienced during a bike trip through the country.But while there were only around 300 breweries in the U.S. at that time, the number of beermakers has surged in the past three decades, with almost 7,500 operating in the U.S. as of 2018. The now-mature customer base has rapidly changing tastes and a penchant for new fads.That has left some industry veterans flat-footed and in need of deep-pocketed partners in the crowded market -- as evidenced by Anheuser-Busch InBev’s deal to buy out Portland-based Craft Brew Alliance last week, or Samuel Adams maker Boston Beer Co.’s purchase of Dogfish Head earlier this year, in a deal valued at around $300 million.‘Proudly Independent’While New Belgium’s logo declares itself “independent, employee owned” and its website until recently carried a message that it has “never sold out to a bigger company,” the brewery had previously been exploring a sale.Kirin declined to disclose the value of the deal, but an acquisition of this scale would be significant. Reuters reported in 2015 that New Belgium was exploring a sale at a valuation of more than $1 billion, the same price Constellation Brands Inc. paid for San Diego-based Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits that same year. Forbes reported Lion would spend $350 million-$400 million on the deal, citing people it didn’t identify.“As we surveyed the landscape over the last several years, we found that options to raise capital while being an independent brewer weren’t realistic for us,” co-founder Jordan wrote in a letter posted on New Belgium’s website. “Some of the most widely used options by craft brewers were going to compromise a lot about what makes New Belgium great; environmental sustainability, and a rich internal culture.”New Belgium, whose other brands include Voodoo Ranger IPA and La Folie Sour Brown Ale, has a “B-Corporation” certification, which is issued by a nonprofit organization to companies that meet high standards on social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Lion Little World Beverages said it is committed to protecting New Belgium’s identity and culture.Brooklyn, AnchorJapan’s brewing giants have become notably active buyers of overseas craft breweries as beer sales in their domestic market continue to slide. Kirin has been the most acquisitive, buying a 25% stake in Brooklyn Brewery in 2016, and acquiring London-based Fourpure Brewing Co. in 2018.Kirin Chief Executive Officer Yoshinori Isozaki said in February that it has a 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) budget for acquisitions over the next three years, and with large M&A opportunities largely “exhausted” that it was focusing on craft beer deals in America and Europe.Domestic rival Sapporo Holdings Ltd. in 2017 bought Anchor Brewing Co., a century-old San Francisco brewer that helped pioneer the craft-beer movement. Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., meanwhile, has focused on larger international deals, most recently spending around $11 billion to purchase Australia’s largest brewer from AB InBev.To contact the reporter on this story: Gearoid Reidy in Tokyo at greidy1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gearoid Reidy at greidy1@bloomberg.net, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • The NASDAQ Needs No Break

    The NASDAQ Needs No Break

    The NASDAQ Needs No Break

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    Top Research Reports for JPMorgan, Altria Group & ConocoPhillips

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  • Altria Falls 3%

    Altria Falls 3%

    Investing.com - Altria (NYSE:MO) fell by 3.02% to trade at $46.88 by 15:05 (20:05 GMT) on Tuesday on the NYSE exchange.

  • Juul Sued by California for Marketing E-Cigarettes to Teens

    Juul Sued by California for Marketing E-Cigarettes to Teens

    (Bloomberg) -- Juul Labs Inc. was sued by California for allegedly targeting teenagers with ads for its e-cigarettes, after a series of lawsuits filed by schools, parents and others against the market leader as deaths and illnesses linked to vaping add up across the U.S.“Juul adopted the tobacco industry’s infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who announced the lawsuit at a news conference Monday in Los Angeles. “Today we take legal action against the deceptive practices that Juul and the e-cigarette industry employ to lure our kids into their vaping web.”The San Francisco-based e-cigarette company has become a target of government regulators attempting to stem an epidemic of new nicotine users who have flocked to the sleek device even though many have never smoked cigarettes.Becerra alleges that Juul targeted young people in its advertising, failed to include required warnings, knowingly delivered tobacco products to consumers without verifying their age, kept the personal e-mails of minors who tried and failed to make a purchase, and proceeded to market Juul to them.The suit seeks to make Juul pay for the cost of addiction treatment and for prevention. Becerra also wants the court to order Juul to abate a public nuisance and to stop making false and misleading statements and engaging in unfair competition, according to the complaint, and is asking for as much as $2,500 per violation of California false advertising and unfair competition laws.The public-nuisance claims are similar to those against opioid makers and distributors.Read More: Juul, Altria Sued Over E-Cig Marketing as Legal Claims MountJuul hasn’t yet reviewed the lawsuit but is committed to “resetting the vapor category” and “earning the trust of society” by working with authorities to “combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes,” Juul spokesman Austin Finan said in a statement. In the U.S., Juul has stopped accepting orders for Mint JUULpods and suspended all product advertising, Finan said.“Our customer base is the world’s 1 billion adult smokers and we do not intend to attract underage users,” according to the statement.School districts across the U.S., among others, have filed federal suits claiming an economic burden from teen vaping, and there are more than 40 suits in state courts as well. Some of the plaintiffs are parents who claim their children got addicted to nicotine by using e-cigarettes.In addition, the company is facing investigations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, a congressional inquiry and, reportedly, a criminal probe by the Department of Justice.Juul dominates the U.S. market for e-cigarettes. Its vaporizer has been particularly popular with younger users. Altria Group Inc., which makes and markets Marlboro cigarettes in the U.S., invested about $13 billion in the closely held company last year in exchange for a 35% stake. Altria isn’t named as a defendant in California’s suit.As of Nov. 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 42 deaths of patients tied to e-cigarette or vaping product use, with a further 2,172 cases of associated lung injury reported nationwide. Four of the deaths were patients in California, according to a statement from the attorney general.(Updates with what suit seeks in fifth paragraph and with Juul comment below)\--With assistance from Ellen Huet.To contact the reporters on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net;Erik Larson in New York at elarson4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Jeffrey, Peter BlumbergFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Is There An Opportunity With Altria Group, Inc.'s (NYSE:MO) 48% Undervaluation?
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    Philip Morris (PM) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.

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    Simply Wall St.

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    In the latest trading session, Constellation Brands (STZ) closed at $182.82, marking a -0.65% move from the previous day.

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    Simply Wall St.

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