Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO)

CAPS Rating: 4 out of 5

The parent company of Philip Morris USA, Altria controls much of the U.S. tobacco market with Marlboro, Parliament, and other brands.


Player Avatar TRGoodvsEvil (97.23) Submitted: 7/3/2009 7:00:43 PM : Underperform Start Price: $12.05 MO Score: -186.42

Evil elements:
Among tobacco companies, Philip Morris is notorious. Now called Altria, it is the world’s largest and most profitable cigarette corporation and maker of Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Parliament, Basic and many other brands of cigarettes.

Documents uncovered in a lawsuit filed against the tobacco industry by the state of Minnesota showed that Philip Morris and other leading tobacco corporations knew very well of the dangers of tobacco products and the addictiveness of nicotine. To this day, Philip Morris deceives consumers about the harm of its products by offering light, mild and low-tar cigarettes that give consumers the illusion these brands are “healthier” than traditional cigarettes.

Although the company says it doesn’t want kids to smoke, it spends millions of dollars every day marketing and promoting cigarettes to youth. Overseas, it has even hired underage “Marlboro girls” to distribute free cigarettes to other children and sponsored concerts where cigarettes were handed out to minors.

As anti-tobacco campaigns and government regulations are slowing tobacco use in Western countries, Philip Morris has aggressively moved into developing country markets, where smoking and smoking-related deaths are on the rise. Preliminary numbers released by the World Health Organization predict global deaths due to smoking-related illnesses will nearly double by 2020, with more than three-quarters of those deaths in the developing world.


Report this Post 25 Replies
Member Avatar QwertyHero (< 20) Submitted: 8/5/2009 2:29:04 PM
Recs: 9

Get over yourself you poor, sad, sack.

1) Marlboro Girls are hot.
2) Undertake some personal responsibility you spineless twit
3) This sounds like a buy reccomendation - if the number of deaths is set to INCREASE, does that mean more people are smoking?

Thanks to this post I will now give some of my money to Altria - gotta love those unintended consequences, eh TRGoodvsEvil? Bwahahahahaha! Liberal loon!

Member Avatar ozzfan1317 (78.55) Submitted: 8/6/2009 8:09:31 PM
Recs: 0

Smoking is bad for you and these companies are evil but so are the companys that sell booze. You might as well chill man I respect your opinion and agree to an extent but people will smoke and drink and I doubt it matters what we tell them so might as well profit from their

Member Avatar phauenstein (99.48) Submitted: 8/18/2009 3:49:30 PM
Recs: 4

The problem with the original post is that it adds very little value to the investing world. It is a rant on the effects of smoking. Although Philip Morris is deceiving people and marketing to underage people around the world, it is unlikely that any retribution from governments are going to signfiicantly impact Philip Morris operations. Although I do agree that they haven't been profiting significantly in terms of stock price appreciation, it appears to have been outperforming the S&P regularly. Given the dividend distrubutions, they appear to be a reasonable stock for a safe, income investment. A company the size of Philip Morris is unlikely to go anywhere fast, but is fairly reliable and has been diversifying itself regularly.

Member Avatar nebcornhusker13 (97.86) Submitted: 8/18/2009 6:39:10 PM
Recs: 5

Altria is the owner of Phillip Morris USA, Phillip Morris International is a separate entity therefore foreign countries mean nothing to this stock

Member Avatar tweetybirdvicky (< 20) Submitted: 8/25/2009 6:42:49 AM
Recs: 0

Keep the Good Fight Going! I was thinking about buying this - and now I won't. This behavior is despicable and needs to be known! Any great compnies you know of? ( By the way - stay away from all coal -it is NEVER clean) All these money hungry people don't care who they hurt - probably half of them even go to church.

Member Avatar Marshal82 (91.58) Submitted: 8/26/2009 1:38:28 PM
Recs: 2

Do you write the lines for Leno? Facts ma'am nothing but the facts. preach all you want, tobacco is ALWAYS gonna be a money maker.

Member Avatar shinybagel (67.33) Submitted: 8/31/2009 10:47:15 PM
Recs: 2

So, you don't approve of the tobacco business. Fine, don't buy the stock.

However, people are always going to engage in unhealthy, even deadly, activities. If people are determined to be stupid, I have no problem profitting from their stupidity.

Member Avatar xferjenx (45.67) Submitted: 9/6/2009 9:19:56 AM
Recs: 0

To state that MO is "deceiving" consumers is a bit of a stretch. Unless you live under a rock, everyone who is not a moron knows cigarettes will kill you.

These uncovered Minnesota lawsuit documents the original poster mentions is nothing new. Florida sued big tobacco years ago and won. I believe the ongoning suits by other states are already priced into the stock and has been for some time now.

Curiously, MO is not fighting legislation to regulate tobacco by the FDA. I see this as sheer genius. The best marketing tool to get people to smoke - especially kids (don't shoot the messenger) - is to put in big giant letters on every pack DON'T SMOKE THESE! THEY WILL KILL YOU! Adults know that drinking is bad for them, but they still consume mass quantities of alcohol - I suspect even more so during the prohibition years.

Member Avatar CoolHandScott (< 20) Submitted: 9/24/2009 10:07:41 AM
Recs: 0

What about the salt in McDonald's french fries, the sugar in Hersey's candy, the artificial color and flavoring in Coca-Cola, the fat in Utz, etc. etc. etc...America has had a love/hate relationship with tobacco since it was first planted (an imported strain of the first rate Spanish leave). All the other products I listed led to obesity, heart problems, and high blood pressure. It has been documented several times in a range of studies that more people die from complications of obesity than from smoking. Shouldn't we also attack all the companies that sell fattening food. Seems rational to me.

Member Avatar DanteSparda (< 20) Submitted: 9/24/2009 10:04:41 PM
Recs: 5

Lot's of good opinions here. I don't really feel there's too much left to add so I'll just say that I think french toast is tasty and leave it at that.

Member Avatar gjodivinv (53.82) Submitted: 9/25/2009 11:34:29 AM
Recs: 0

Simmer down. . . simmer down now . . . adults should be able to make there own choices.

Member Avatar DanteSparda (< 20) Submitted: 9/25/2009 12:17:02 PM
Recs: 0

True enough.....everything in excess is probably bad for you, but people have the fundamental right to make their own choices. I'm sure that plenty of people who smoke know for a fact that it isn't good for them but just don't care. And their are plenty of other vices that are harmful anyway that receive far less media attention. When I here about pending legislation about putting pictures of diseased lungs or things on cartons of cigarettes....I think....I guess that's fine...but then isn't it somewhat hypocritical? I mean.....why not put detailed descriptions of STD's with pictures on boxes of condoms.....or pictures of horribly mangled corpses hanging out of windshields on boxes of beer and other alcohol products.

As a disclosure, I own this stock and I don't use tabacco in any form.....nor do I think that people really should.....but the demand for this product will never ever go away unless there is a complete paradigm shift in the mentality of the country. It's good business, not an everlasting battle to maintain the ethical highground.

Member Avatar AlexisMachine (< 20) Submitted: 12/9/2009 12:34:59 PM
Recs: 1

It is better to have evil elements than it is to have health Nazi elements along with elements of poop for brains like the morally omnipotent busybody TRgoodvsevil obviously has. If this jerks idiotic standards were applied to his own holdings we would see a portfolio riddled with evils such as profits, the use of marketing to influence consumers, and plenty of bogus studies by phony propaganda organs like the WHO linking every known evil, malady and misfortune in the world directly to whatever companies this bozo owns stock in. The truth of the matter is that 90% of the pleasurable things in life have in some way been fundamentally impaired by killjoys, chicken littles, and whining baby huey's of the world like this chucklehead, so one could posit that the net reduction in pleasure has correlated into millions more people suffering from unhappiness and depression every year. That this certainly means thier has been a drasitic uptick in suicides by additional individuals that this weenie helped drive into depression with his behavior leads us to conclude that TRgoodvsevil is personally responsible for the deaths of at least 100,000 suicides he caused last year which unlike Tobacco Companies he forced his will on these poor souls never once considering asking them if it was okay for him to reduce thier ability to experience joy. No one is forced to buy tobbacco products whereas this guy forced suicides on over 100,000 people last year alone almost as if he had simply killed them himself, rather than having killed them indirectly using his usual methods of caterwalling, whining, making up phony statistics and violating people private property rights. This guy is worse than evill, he is a sadistic psycopath whose only joy in life comes from ruining the joy of others and sick monsters like him ought to be locked up in padded cells and have the keys thrown away for the sake of all the countless victims this butcher will slaughter over the course of his natural life spent murdering the pleasures of others and in so doing the soul killing effects of his actions drive untold masses of people to take thier own lives in order to not have to share the same planet as this jerk and all the other puke bags like him who hate the idea of joy in others. Here we have an example of trully an awful man in our midst, an absolute horror of a human being whose heart is colored by the pure obsidian darkness of pure un-cut malice driven by the most diabolical evils known to man kind and you can find him ranked high on the list of The horror, the horror.

Member Avatar kengzeng (< 20) Submitted: 1/23/2010 2:59:11 PM
Recs: 0

Philip Morris international looks better than MO in the future since most of other countries don't try to screw the tobacoo indusry up so desperately.

But the dividend of MO is very very sweet. If youbought in yesterday, your would have a 6.8% !

Member Avatar g007742 (< 20) Submitted: 2/14/2010 4:02:11 AM
Recs: 0

Have you checked the bookvalue lately? I like the dividend too, but it's pricey.

Member Avatar jm7700229 (36.66) Submitted: 3/7/2010 9:10:00 AM
Recs: 2

I started smoking in about 1954 -- 10 years before the Surgeon General's report. We kids called cigarettes "cancer sticks" and "coffin nails" that far back. To believe that tobacco companies are successfully deceiving people in the middle of all the anti-smoking campaigns over the last 40 years is absurd.

I developed emphysema after 30 years of smoking. Note that I developed it -- it wasn't given to me. I waited too long to make my choice. All the Marlboro Man did was sell me what I wanted to buy.

I feel no guilt about investing in this business. Maybe I'll get some of my own back!

Member Avatar lepant (90.18) Submitted: 3/17/2010 3:41:26 PM
Recs: 2

Price to book isn't really a great metric for bussinesses which really on branding, I mean look at the likes of KO, PEP, PG. The majority of companies in the consumer staples space actually have negative vaules for tangible book values, which isn't a surprise and shouldn't lead to alarm; as generally they aren't capital intensive bussinesses to run. Requiring less capital to be re-invested back into the bussiness will result in a book value that doesn't grow as quickly one would expected. With that being said Price to cash flow, and price to sales are far more approriate metrics to be used; not just for MO but consumer staples in general.

Member Avatar 351427 (< 20) Submitted: 8/3/2010 11:28:25 PM
Recs: 0

How interesting, two of this guys stock picks are ---wait for it--- KO and MO, hmm!

Member Avatar IMFSystems (< 20) Submitted: 8/16/2010 4:21:52 PM
Recs: 0

I concur with TRGoodvsEvil. While I try to keep my emotions out of my trading & investment decisions, this is one of the areas that I choose to vote with my wallet. I suspect that this company will likely do well by its investors, but as a former smoker, I simply cannot bring myself to directly supporting that industry, even though they do have many non-tobacco products. Besides, there are of other investment opportunities that are just as good if not better. I draw this line in the sand, with not intent to impune those who choose to directly invest/trade in the tobacco industry.

Finally, I appreciate Motley Fool attempting to look at these companies on a performance basis rather than a social basis, and leaving such decisions to us individual investors/traders.

Member Avatar jm7700229 (36.66) Submitted: 12/27/2010 6:43:14 PM
Recs: 0

Regarding the original rant -- I started smoking in about 1954 when I was 9 years old. That's ten years before the surgeon general's report. I knew that smoking was bad for one's health (who, at that age, cares). I started smoking because my parents did, all of their friends did, and most of the older kids did. So all the claims by people that they were fooled by the tobacco companies are simply crap to increase the value of the litigation. If we don't mind making money from mostly poor people through the state lotteries, why should we mind making money from mostly stupid people through tobacco. Someone is going to make it and it might as well be me. I don't feel in the least bit evil.

Member Avatar JPAKolypse86 (< 20) Submitted: 8/17/2011 2:36:21 PM
Recs: 0

People will always smoke. Trying to control other peoples habits is useless at best, and counterproductive at worst. Tobacco was the first cash crop grown on this continent (and a cash cow for the government: altogether, states raised about $16 billion in revenue from excise taxes on tobacco in 2008). The greatest share of revenue from these taxes comes from the northeast and great lakes region where excise taxes on cigarettes are relatively high (about $7 billion). This tax revenue provides major funding to education. But recently states have been hurting for tobacco revenue, because of a federal law signed in 2008 raised the price per pack by $1. California alone saw its tobacco revenue drop by more than half from 2008 to 2009 (less $900 million on the previous year). The drop in revenue comes at the worse possible time where states are struggling to close holes in the budget (and keep in mind that the issue of state pension has not even begun to enter the public eye).

I apologize for going off on a rant, I just felt that this conversation could use more facts and less opinion. It was not my intention to support one ideology over another, these are just events that have already happened. To get back to my point, we seem to have tipped over the edge of the laffer curve. Lawmakers, in their quest for additional revenue, accidentally shot themselves in the foot. The worst for tobacco makers is probably behind them, and they weathered the storm. We may even see a repeal of the federal cigarette tax when the next administration takes over (which should lead to higher sales).

Member Avatar 7numismatics7 (83.72) Submitted: 11/20/2011 5:31:15 PM
Recs: 0

How is this the "top" bear pitch? This is mindless pablum with no value to add as far as investment analysis. Give me a break.

Member Avatar foolishdoog (< 20) Submitted: 12/12/2011 8:46:24 AM
Recs: 0

I remember hearing about a country founded by the Virginia company to produce tobacco. After the company failed to produce significant cash flow it was taken over by the king of england. It grew many years later to become the largest economy on earth.
I smoked in my early days and never once felt decieved by a tabacco company.

Member Avatar michnow (< 20) Submitted: 2/5/2012 1:05:43 PM
Recs: 0

Then you might as well condemn mac, bk ,wendy's and all the of the restaurant business. They all serve unhealthy products. Sound like a big govt hack that wants big brother to make all your decision and take all the responsibility for your well being.

Member Avatar hba24 (94.27) Submitted: 9/2/2012 4:30:23 PM
Recs: 0

As one commenter noted about the comments on TRGoodvsEvil's underperform pick on Exxon Mobil, I can't believe you all replied to this pitch. It's obvious that the entire portfolio is set up as a sort of experiment--namely, to see whether ethics has any bearing on a company's financial success. Judging by the portfolio's CAPS score of only 34.83 at the time I'm writing this comment, it would appear that ethics does have a slight effect: the more ethical the company, the less likely it is to be successful. This arguably sad state of affairs seems more worthy of comment.

All that said, it's not totally unreasonable to weigh ethics and social responsibility when making investment decisions. As the social and political landscape tends more toward rewarding socially responsible companies, those companies lacking consciences may find it harder to turn profits.

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