Altria’s cigarette shipment volume during the 12 months to the end of December, at 109,791 million, was down by 5.8 percent on that of the 12 months to the end of December 2017, 116,606 million. Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris USA and Nat Sherman, as well as U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company (USSTC), John Middleton, Nu Mark, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Philip Morris Capital Corporation.
Marlboro shipments were down by 5.2 percent to 94,770 million, while shipments of other premium brands were down by 7.0 percent to 5,552 million.
Discount brand shipments were down by 11.2 percent to 9,469 million.
Altria’s share of the US retail cigarette market during the year to the end of December, at 50.1 percent, was down by 0.6 of a percentage point. Marlboro’s share was down by 0.3 of a percentage point to 43.1 percent, while that of the company’s other premium brands was down by 0.1 of a percentage point to 2.6 percent. The company’s discount-brands’ share was down by 0.2 of a percentage point to 4.4 percent.
In reporting its results yesterday, Altria said that the reported domestic cigarette shipment volume decline of 5.8 percent had been primarily driven by the industry’s rate of decline, retail share losses and trade inventory movements, partially offset by one extra shipping day. ‘When adjusted for trade inventory movements and one extra shipping day, … domestic cigarette shipment volume decreased by an estimated 5.5 percent,’ it said. ‘Total domestic cigarette industry volumes declined by an estimated 4.5 percent.’
Middleton’s cigar shipments during the year to the end of December, at 1,601 million, were up by 3.8 percent on those of the year to the end of December 2017, 1,542 million.
Shipments of Black & Mild cigars were up by 4.1 percent to 1,590 million, while shipments of other brands were down by 26.7 percent to 11 million.
USSTC’s smokeless product shipments (cans and packs) during the year to the end of December, at 832.6 million, were down by 1.0 percent on those of 2017, 841.3 million.
Copenhagen shipments were roughly unchanged at 531.7 million, while Skoal shipments were down by 4.5 percent to 231.1 million.
Other-brand shipments were up by 2.9 percent to 69.8 million.
USSTC’s share of the retail market in smokeless tobacco was unchanged at 54.0 percent. Copenhagen’s share was increased by 0.4 of a percentage point to 34.4 percent, while Skoal’s share was down by 0.5 of a percentage point to 16.2 percent. The share of the company’s other brands was increased by 0.1 of a percentage point to 3.4 percent.
Altria reported that it had signed and closed a $12.8 billion investment in JUUL, the US leader in the e-vapor market, representing a 35 percent economic interest.
And it reported that it had entered into an agreement to acquire newly issued shares in Cronos Group Inc, a leading global cannabinoid company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. ‘These shares represent a 45 percent equity stake for an investment of approximately $1.8 billion (approximately CAD $2.4 billion),’ it said.
In presenting the results, Altria’s chairman and CEO Howard Willard said the company had closed out 2018 with excellent full-year adjusted diluted earnings-per-share growth and had continued to reward shareholders by “returning” $5.4 billion in cash through dividends.
“PM USA stabilized Marlboro and strengthened our combustible business,” he said.
“We also took proactive steps that we believe uniquely position us for long-term success.
“Altria enters 2019 with an evolved business platform that includes our strong core tobacco businesses and new strategic investments with tremendous potential for growth.”