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Citi Is More Bullish On Tobacco, Particularly Altria

Dave Royse

Citi upgraded Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) as part of a more bullish general outlook on tobacco companies, but dropped its rating on Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM).

The stocks moved in accordance, with Altria shares up and Philip Morris stock dropping.

The Analyst

Citi’s Adam Spielman upgraded Altria from Neutral to Buy, and downgraded Philip Morris from Buy to Neutral.

The Thesis

Overall, Spielman is moving more bullish on the industry, noting that traditional tobacco companies have fallen to price to earnings ratios last seen when litigation meant bankruptcy was actually a possibility. That’s no longer the case, though.

Even in the face of new lower-risk products, such as e-cigarettes, the traditional product remains.

“It is becoming hard to argue that ‘tobacco is being disrupted,’” Spielman wrote in a note. “We believe investors will start to care less about ‘reduced risk products.’”

While the outlook broadly is good, Spielman favors Altria in the industry over Philip Morris.

Citi also has “greater conviction” on two other tobacco stocks, Imperial Tobacco Group plc (OTC: IMBBY) and British American Tobacco plc (NYSE: BAT).

Price Action

Altria shares were up 1.37% to $50.38, while Philip Morris was down by 1.2% to $81.94. BAT shares were down 0.61% at $39.37, while Imperial was up slightly, trading at $22.18.

Related Links:

Which Tobacco Companies Are Most Exposed To E-Cigarette Headwinds?

Tobacco Stocks Rebound As Trump Says 'We Have To Do Something On Vaping'

Latest Ratings for MO

Date Firm Action From To
Dec 2019 Upgrades Neutral Buy
Nov 2019 Maintains Neutral
Oct 2019 Upgrades Sell Neutral

View More Analyst Ratings for MO
View the Latest Analyst Ratings

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