Altria Group upgraded to Buy from Hold at Panmure Gordon » 05:4504/0304/03/20
Panmure Gordon analyst…
Panmure Gordon analyst Rae Maile upgraded Altria Group to Buy from Hold with a $62 price target.
Altria Group to defend minority investment in JUUL against FTC action » 05:2104/0204/02/20
Altria Group announced…
Altria Group announced that the U.S. FTC has filed an administrative complaint challenging Altria's minority investment in JUUL Labs. In December 2018, Altria made a minority investment in JUUL. In exchange for the investment, Altria received a 35% economic interest in JUUL through non-voting shares, with their conversion to voting shares and the seating of representatives on JUUL's board of directors contingent on antitrust clearance. "We believe that our investment in JUUL does not harm competition and that the FTC misunderstood the facts," said Murray Garnick, Altria's Executive Vice President and General Counsel. "We are disappointed with the FTC's decision, believe we have a strong defense and will vigorously defend our investment."
FTC sues to unwind Altria's $12.8B investment in Juul » 18:3004/0104/01/20
The Federal Trade…
The Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint alleging that Altria Group, Inc. and JUUL Labs, Inc. entered a series of agreements, including Altria's acquisition of a 35% stake in JUUL, that eliminated competition in violation of federal antitrust laws. The FTC alleged that as competitors, Altria and JUUL monitored each other's e-cigarette prices closely and raced to innovate. Altria also leveraged its ownership of leading brands across tobacco categories to secure favorable shelf space at retailers throughout the United States, the complaint alleges. Although early competition resulted in Altria's MarkTen e-cigarette becoming the second most popular brand by market share, by late 2018, JUUL vaulted past the industry leaders Altria and Reynolds to become the leading e-cigarette company in the country. The Commission alleges that Altria dealt with this competitive threat by agreeing not to compete in return for a substantial ownership interest in JUUL. Weeks after Altria declared its intention to wind down its e-cigarette business, Altria and JUUL announced an agreement that made Altria JUUL's largest shareholder, allowed Altria to appoint an observer to JUUL's Board of Directors, and would have permitted Altria to appoint three members of JUUL's Board after converting its shares to voting securities. JUUL received over $12B, an agreement that Altria would not compete with JUUL for six years, and a range of support services. Reference Link
FTC files suit to unwind Altria's $12.8B Juul investment, Bloomberg says 18:2304/0104/01/20
British American Tobacco subsidiary working on potential COVID-19 vaccine » 07:0804/0104/01/20
BAT's US bio-tech…
BAT's US bio-tech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing, is developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19 and is now in pre-clinical testing. If testing goes well, BAT said in a statement that it is hopeful that, with the right partners and support from government agencies, between 1 and 3 million doses of the vaccine could be manufactured per week, beginning in June. While KBP remains a commercial operation, the intention is that its work around the COVID-19 vaccine project will be carried out on a not for profit basis. BAT is now exploring partnerships with government agencies to bring its vaccine to clinical studies as soon as possible. Dr David O'Reilly, Director of Scientific Research, BAT said: "We are engaged with the US Food and Drug Administration and are seeking guidance on next steps. We have also engaged with the UK's Department for Health and Social Care, and BARDA in the US, to offer our support and access to our research with the aim of trying to expedite the development of a vaccine for COVID-19." Reference Link
Altria Group resumed with a Neutral at Goldman Sachs » 05:3004/0104/01/20
Goldman Sachs analyst…
Goldman Sachs analyst Bonnie Herzog resumed coverage of Altria Group with a Neutral rating and $35 price target. The analyst's outlook for Altria's business has turned "much more cautious" over the last several months given mounting headwinds, increased uncertainty, and limited options to drive accelerated growth. In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak, the increased likelihood of a recession, and the temporary suspension of operations at the company's Richmond manufacturing facility "does not help," Herzog tells investors in a research note.
FDA may extend application period for e-cigarette makers, WSJ reports » 06:1303/3103/31/20
MO, BTI, IMBBY, PM
The FDA may give a…
The FDA may give a 120-day reprieve to e-cigarette makers who were facing a May deadline to either submit their products for federal review or take them off the market, The Wall Street Journal's Jennifer Maloney reports. According to the report, many laboratories performing required studies for the manufacturers' applications have shut down or halted in-person work indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic, and many clinical studies involving human participants have been suspended. Additionally, employees from the agency's Center for Tobacco Products, including many responsible for reviewing the e-cigarette applications, have been redeployed to work for the U.S. Public Health Service during the pandemic. Publicly traded companies in the space include Altria (MO), British American Tobacco (BTI), Imperial Brands (IMBBY) and Philip Morris (PM). Reference Link
Imperial Brands upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Sandler » 06:0903/3103/31/20
Piper Sandler analyst…
Piper Sandler analyst Michael Lavery upgraded Imperial Brands to Overweight from Neutral with a price target of 1,800 GBp, down from 2,000 GBp. The company can afford its dividend, "and the stock looks cheap," Lavery tells investors in a research note. The 16% dividend yield is attractive, but implies market suspicion of its sustainability, says the analyst.
Imperial Brands price target lowered to 2,000 GBp at Deutsche Bank » 12:0703/3003/30/20
Deutsche Bank analyst…
Deutsche Bank analyst Gerry Gallagher lowered the firm's price target on Imperial Brands to 2,000 GBp from 2,200 GBp and keeps a Buy rating on the shares. The analyst noted that "FX has been volatile of late and could remain so for some time," potentially materially impacting the firm's forecasts.
|Over a week ago|
Altria Group call volume above normal and directionally bullish » 12:4503/2503/25/20
Bullish option flow…
Bullish option flow detected in Altria Group with 7,385 calls trading, 1.1x expected, and implied vol increasing almost 17 points to 80.69%. 3/27 weekly 34 calls and 3/27 weekly 35 calls are the most active options, with total volume in those strikes near 2,200 contracts. The Put/Call Ratio is 0.26. Earnings are expected on April 30th.