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Fly News Breaks for June 13, 2019
MO
Jun 13, 2019 | 08:32 EDT
Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Lee Herzog says she just learned from her industry contacts that Altria Group/Philip Morris USA took a "surprise" cigarette list price increase that will be effective with shipments on or after June 16, several months earlier than Altria's typical practice of raising cigarette list prices every six months. Further, the analyst also learned from her retailer contacts that Altria has reduced certain promo allowances on some of its brands starting in July. Given the continued pressure on cigarette volumes, Herzog thinks this is a key reason Altria is being more aggressive with pricing in effort to offset volume declines/protect margins, and wouldn't be surprised if it took another increase in the fall or later this year. Overall, the analyst expects tobacco stocks will react favorably to this list price increase. She reiterates an Overweight rating on the tobacco sector and on Altria's stock.