Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) reported its second quarter earnings. Although revenue beat Wall Street expectations, adjusted earnings fell short. The Company attributes this to the decline of cigarette sales, as e-cigarettes grow in popularity.
Altria sells Marlboro, the largest U.S. cigarette brand, but declines in cigarette sales puts the Company in a rough spot, forcing them to look for growth in other areas, such as e-cigarettes, oral nicotine pouches and cannabis products.
Shares of the market fell 1% in premarket trading. According to Refinitiv analysts, the Company reported earnings per share of USD 1.10, adjusted vs. earnings per share of USD 1.11, expected and a revenue of USD 5.19 Billion vs. an estimated revenue of USD 5.09 Billion.
Altria also bought 3.7 million of its shares, completing a USD 2 Billion buyback. The cigarette giant also said that its board of directors authorized a new USD 1 Billion buyback. The Company expects cigarette sales to fall around 5-6% this year because of users switching over to e-cigarettes. Cigarette sales were essentially flat this year, and Marlboro held its share at 43%, Altria said.
In order to combat the decline in cigarette sales, Altria invested USD 1.8 Billion in Cronos, a Canadian cannabis company, USD 12.8 Billion in Juul, the leading e-cigarette company, and USD 372 Million in On, an oral nicotine pouch brand. The Company also plans to sell iQOS, a heated tobacco product, licensed to be sold by Philip Morris International and the product has been cleared by the FDA.
“We’ve maintained our focus on the adult tobacco consumer and believe that with our leading premium tobacco brands, U.S. commercialization rights to iQOS, investment in Juul and pending transaction for On, we are best positioned among tobacco peers to lead through a dynamic time in the U.S., ” Altria Chief Executive Officer Howard Willard said.