Altria to Expand Marketing of Heated-Tobacco Device - WSJ

Cigarette seller reports net sales fell almost 4% in second quarter

Cigarette seller Altria Group Inc. said it would expand marketing of a heated-tobacco device, a few weeks after the government authorized a marketing claim in the U.S. that it exposes users to fewer harmful substances than cigarettes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month approved the Virginia-based company’s IQOS and HeatSticks...

Cigarette seller Altria Group Inc. said it would expand marketing of a heated-tobacco device, a few weeks after the government authorized a marketing claim in the U.S. that it exposes users to fewer harmful substances than cigarettes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month approved the Virginia-based company’s IQOS and HeatSticks to be marketed as having “reduced exposure.”

Altria said Tuesday that Philip Morris USA, which is under Altria, expects that the heated-tobacco device will be sold in Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta and Richmond, Va., in over 700 stores by the end of next month. Altria said Philip Morris USA expects to expand the device to four more markets over the next year and a half.

Altria said Tuesday that second-quarter profit was $1.94 billion, or $1.04 a share, down from last year’s $2 billion, or $1.07 a share.

Adjusted earnings for the quarter were $1.09 a share, Altria said. According to FactSet, analysts were expecting $1.06 a share.

Net revenue fell, slipping almost 4% to $6.37 billion, the company reported.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Altria logged $50 million in pre-tax charges for the quarter.

The company also gave an outlook for adjusted earnings of $4.21 a share to $4.38 a share for 2020. In April, the company suspended its earnings outlook, given uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, it was expecting adjusted earnings of $4.39 a share to $4.51 a share.

Altria also now expects the domestic-cigarette-industry adjusted decline rate to be less than previously expected at between 2% and 3.5%. It had been expecting between 4% and 6%.

Write to Allison Prang at allison.prang@wsj.com

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