Dear Valued Visitor,

We have noticed that you are using an ad blocker software.

Although advertisements on the web pages may degrade your experience, our business certainly depends on them and we can only keep providing you high-quality research based articles as long as we can display ads on our pages.

To view this article, you can disable your ad blocker and refresh this page or simply login.

We only allow registered users to use ad blockers. You can sign up for free by clicking here or you can login if you are already a member.

Altria Group Inc (MO), Lorillard Inc. (LO): Can Big Tobacco Survive Additional Regulations?

Many investors choose not to invest in tobacco companies, for a variety of reasons. One of which is the constant threat of litigation and encroaching government regulation. Since tobacco is a product that is harmful to our health, the popular argument against tobacco stocks is that the government is always liable to implement punishing regulations that have the potential to cause material, long-lasting damage to the nation’s biggest tobacco companies.

Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO)

In April, this threat was renewed yet again when the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, brought forth proposals to further restrict smoking in his city. Should tobacco investors rush for the exits on this news? Are Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO), Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE:RAI), and Lorillard Inc. (NYSE:LO) investors wise to dump their stocks now, so as to not be left holding the bag when the dust settles?

Beware the health-conscious consumer

It’s no secret that smoking is harmful. The public is widely aware of the damaging health effects of smoking, and as a result, health advocates such as Mayor Bloomberg have taken the offensive. His latest plan is to increase the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.

Previous efforts have been made to reduce smoking, particularly among young people, including banning tobacco companies from advertising and prohibiting smoking in public places in many metropolitan areas.

The fruits of these endeavors are evident. According to a Gallup poll taken last August, only one in five adults in the U.S. smokes, representing the lowest percentage since 1944.

These initiatives and the decline in smoking rates is having an undeniable effect on big tobacco. Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE:RAI), maker of Camel, Pall Mall, and Natural American Spirit cigarettes recently reported quarterly revenue dropped 3% year over year.

Further, Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE:RAI) has struggled over the last couple years. Revenue has declined for two years in a row, with full-year 2012 sales dropping almost 3%. Even worse, diluted earnings per share fell almost 7% in 2012 year-over-year.

Lorillard Inc. (NYSE:LO) is a much smaller competitor, with a market capitalization of $15 billion that has seen its share of difficulty lately. The company offers the Newport and Kent brands, and in February reported decent, if unspectacular, full-year 2012 results. Revenue and diluted earnings per share increased 2.4% and 5.6%, respectively.

Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO), on the other hand, has performed admirably over the same period.  Plainly stated, Altria’s full-year 2012 results were simply better than the results of its closest peers. Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) reported full-year revenue increased 3.5% and revealed impressive diluted earnings per share growth of 25% versus the prior year.

DOWNLOAD FREE REPORT: Warren Buffett's Best Stock Picks

Let Warren Buffett, George Soros, Steve Cohen, and Daniel Loeb WORK FOR YOU.

If you want to beat the low cost index funds by 19 percentage points per year, look no further than our monthly newsletter.In this free report you can find an in-depth analysis of the performance of Warren Buffett's entire historical stock picks. We uncovered Warren Buffett's Best Stock Picks and a way to for Buffett to improve his returns by more than 4 percentage points per year.

Bonus Biotech Stock Pick: You can also find a detailed bonus biotech stock pick that we expect to return more than 50% within 12 months.
Subscribe me to Insider Monkey's Free Daily Newsletter
This is a FREE report from Insider Monkey. Credit Card is NOT required.