New York, New York--(Newsfile Corp. - November 20, 2019) - Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, a leading national securities law firm, reminds investors in Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE: MO) ("Altria" or the "Company") of the December 2, 2019 deadline to seek the role of lead plaintiff in a federal securities class action that has been filed against the Company.
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If you invested in Altria stock or options between December 20, 2018 and September 24, 2019 and would like to discuss your legal rights, click here: www.faruqilaw.com/MO. There is no cost or obligation to you.
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The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of all those who purchased Altria securities between December 20, 2018 and September 24, 2019 (the "Class Period"). The case, Klein v. Altria Group, Inc., No. 19-cv-05579 was filed on October 2, 2019 and has been assigned to Judge Joan M. Azrack.
The lawsuit focuses on whether the Company and its executives violated federal securities laws by making false and/or misleading statements and/or failing to disclose that: (1) Altria had conducted insufficient due diligence into JUUL prior to the Company's $12.8 billion investment, or 35% stake, in JUUL; (2) Altria consequently failed to inform investors, or account for, material risks associated with JUUL's products and marketing practices, and the true value of JUUL and its products; (3) all of the foregoing, as well as mounting public scrutiny, negative publicity, and governmental pressure on e-vapor products and JUUL made it reasonably likely that Altria's investment in JUUL would have a material negative impact on the Company's reputation and operations; and (4) as a result, the Company's public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.
Following Altria's multi-billion dollar investment into JUUL, e-vapor products and JUUL increasingly became the subject of public and regulatory scrutiny throughout the country. Mounting skepticism, fear, and negative publicity in the media regarding e-cigarettes' safety led to increased scrutiny by government authorities into vaping products, and municipalities throughout the country began tightening sales practices related to those products.
For example, on April 3, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") announced its investigation into nearly three dozen cases of people suffering from seizures after "vaping" (the act of consuming e-vapor products through inhalation). Between 2010 and 2019, the FDA said it received thirty-five reports of people, especially children and young adults, experiencing seizures after using e-cigarettes.
On this news, Altria's stock price fell from $56.69 per share on April 2, 2019 to $53.98 per share on April 3, 2019-a $2.71 or 4.78% drop.
Then, on August 29, 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") was investigating whether JUUL used influencers and other marketing practices to appeal e-cigarettes to minors.
On this news, Altria's stock price fell from $45.85 per share on August 28, 2019 to $44.25 per share on August 29, 2019-a $1.60 or 3.49% drop.
Additionally, on August 30, 2019, both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") announced that they were collaborating to investigate e-cigarette related cases of illnesses and "working tirelessly to investigate the distressing incidents of severe respiratory disease associated with use of e-cigarette products."
On this news, Altria's stock price fell from $44.25 per share on August 29, 2019 to $43.74 per share on August 30, 2019-a $0.51 or 1.15% drop-a total loss of $2.11 per share, or 4.6%, since closing at $45.85 per share two trading days earlier on August 28, 2019.
On September 11, 2019, news sources reported that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was preparing a ban on flavored e-cigarettes as federal agencies probed an outbreak of a lung problem that killed at least six people and reportedly led to the sickness of hundreds of others. President Trump and U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar reportedly both confirmed that a ban is possible after the vaping issues are investigated.
On September 12, 2019, during after-market hours, Reuters reported that, "[w]ithin weeks, New Jersey could become the latest state to restrict e-cigarette use, with the governor on Thursday launching a task force to find ways to curb vaping, linked by U.S. health officials to hundreds of respiratory illnesses and a half-dozen deaths." Additionally, that same day, the CDC reported that as of September 11, 2019, 380 confirmed cases, and probably cases of lung disease associated with vaping, had been reported by thirty-six states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with six total deaths confirmed in six states.
On this news, Altria's stock price fell from $44.46 per share on September 12, 2019 to $42.01 per share on September 13, 2019-a $2.45 or 5.51% drop.
On September 23, 2019, during after-market hours, news sources began reporting that federal prosecutors in California were conducting a criminal probe into JUUL.
Finally, on September 25, 2019, Altria issued a press release announcing that Philip Morris had called off discussions of a $200 billion merger with Altria due to scrutiny of the vaping industry and the Company's 35% stake in market leader JUUL, which had announced the same day that it was the subject of another federal investigation. JUUL also announced its CEO would step down and the firm would stop all advertising in the U.S.
On this news, Altria's stock price fell from $40.73 per share on September 24, 2019 to $40.56 per share on September 25, 2019-a $0.17 or 0.42% drop- a total loss of $0.32 per share, or 0.78%, since closing at $40.88 per share two trading days earlier on September 23, 2019.
The court-appointed lead plaintiff is the investor with the largest financial interest in the relief sought by the class who is adequate and typical of class members who directs and oversees the litigation on behalf of the putative class. Any member of the putative class may move the Court to serve as lead plaintiff through counsel of their choice, or may choose to do nothing and remain an absent class member. Your ability to share in any recovery is not affected by the decision to serve as a lead plaintiff or not.
Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP also encourages anyone with information regarding Altria's conduct to contact the firm, including whistleblowers, former employees, shareholders and others.
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