I work for MO, and I can tell you that the senior management of this company is the very best you will find. They have one thing on their minds, and that is to increase shareholder value. When your own personal wealth is tied to it (in options), you can see why. I know, I personnally control about 15K shares.
This company continues to downsize, synergize, and optimize. They spin off divisions that can't maintain 15% ROI. They are a leader in systems development, and in their understanding of Supply Chain concepts.
They have tremendous amounts of capital they continue to spend on line extentions, new products, and cost reductions. They are a leader in taking brands globally.
Lastly, believe me on this, they know what they are doing on the tobacco front, and that includes the litigation issues. Sometimes you have to lose a few battles before winning the WAR.
Short term: If this stock breaks 46, then look out for a straight climb to 60.
Long term: MO will continue to bring in 15% annual returns just as it has done for the past 20 years. My kids college is banking on it.
Been with MO for 8 years. You could say I'm in "upper middle" management.
MO determines each year how much money they will spend buying back their stock. They were under a buyback plan in 97 which will probably continue in 98. The board knows a good investment when it sees one.
Don't look for any big food acquisitions, nationally. The biggest returns now come from downsizing and buying up available cigarette capacity overseas.
Next earnings report around 19th of Jan. No surprises.
Stocks almost at 46 people. When it breaks you'll see 60!