Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Tobacco Profits Going Up in Smoke?

Tobacco Profits Going Up in Smoke? (PM, CG, RAI)

07 April, 2008 12:06:00 Thom Buschman – Investerms

Tobacco companies may face an uphill battle against regulators after new legislation was proposed that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority of tobacco products. The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 38-12 in favor of the proposal that is now ready to be passed on to the U.S. Senate before becoming effective. Shareholders of tobacco companies are divided as the legislation may benefit some while hurting others.

The new legislation is expected to impose significant restrictions on marketing as well as require larger warning labels. These are developments that are more likely to hurt smaller tobacco companies rather than the nationally-recognized and established brand names. This means that big companies like Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM), which recently spun off from Altria Group (NYSE: MO), stand to benefit at the expense of other smaller players like Carolina Group (NYSE: CG) and Reynolds American (NYSE: RAI).

This may sound great for larger companies, but there is a big downside. The FDA will also likely require manufacturers and importers of tobacco to pay user fees to fund the new regulatory responsibilities under the bill. These fees are expected to net $90 million this year, but increase to $755 million by 2018. These fees would be assessed based on market share, which means that the lion’s share of the fees will be levied on companies like Philip Morris.

The best options for shareholders may be those tobacco companies with greater international exposure. Companies like Imperial Tobacco Group (NYSE: ITY) with particular strengths in the United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, the Republic of Ireland, France, Spain, Greece, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, Taiwan and sub-Saharan Africa are of particular interest. Strong international brands may become more important than strong domestic brands if the measures pass.

In the end, tobacco companies are likely to suffer from these new measures. Reduced marketing will put pressure on top-line growth by limiting their ability to attract new customers. Meanwhile, the fees associated with the new regulation will put pressure on margins and negatively impact the bottom-line. Combined, this is bad news for tobacco companies if the bill is passed in its current state.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>