Should You Consider Investing in Philip Morris (PM)?

Broyhill Asset Management, an investment management firm, published its second-quarter 2021 investor letter – a copy of which can be downloaded here. Since the availability of vaccines was announced in the fourth quarter of last year, the portfolio has appreciated materially, generating strong absolute performance and attractive returns relative to broad market indices. You can view the fund’s top 5 holdings to have an idea about their top bets for 2021.

In the Q2 2021 investor letter of Broyhill Asset Management, the fund mentioned Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) and discussed its stance on the firm. Philip Morris International Inc. is a New York, New York-based cigarette company with a $158.3 billion market capitalization. PM delivered a 22.67% return since the beginning of the year, extending its 12-month returns to 27.54%. The stock closed at $101.42 per share on August 20, 2021.

Here is what Broyhill Asset Management has to say about Philip Morris International Inc. in its Q2 2021 investor letter:

Philip Morris (PM) shook off the prospects of a ban on menthol and a potential cap on nicotine and gained 23%. We shared our thoughts on these regulations during the quarter, which are available here.

‘PM Valuation. PM is up ~ 15% YTD and would have the most to gain under a nicotine cap. A cap would likely accelerate conversion to iQOS, which is 100% incremental for PM (PM also has zero exposure to combustible cigarettes in the U.S. and licenses its IQOS product for MO to distribute domestically). As such, the decline in PM was much more muted, with the stock hitting new 52 week highs a day after the Biden headline, driven by yesterday’s earnings release. It didn’t take long for investors to shift their attention back to fundamentals and the fundamentals here are best in class. In short, results beat estimates across the board (a recurring theme here), and management raised guidance for the full year (another recurring theme). IQOS continued to deliver impressive growth, recording continued market share gains on the heels of continued user acquisition growth, up 1.5M to 19.1M total users. Importantly, IQOS now represents nearly 30% of PM net revenues (management expects “smoke-free” products to represent more than half of their business by 2025, which should make the ESG folks happy), which is driving top-line growth and margin expansion. Hard to believe that they have created a product with higher margins than combustible cigarettes!! We expect PM operating margins to increase by 100bps – 200bps annually as IQOS continues to gain share. The stock trades at ~ 15x today or 2/3 of the market’s multiple for a business likely to generate $35B in cash flow – or 25% of the market cap – in just the next three years. Over the last decade, shares have traded at an average multiple of 18x and within a range of ~ 14x – 22x (+/-1 standard deviation). The stock yields 5.1% at the current price, and we expect management to resume share purchases in the back half of this year.'”

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Based on our calculations, Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) was not able to clinch a spot in our list of the 30 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds. PM was in 46 hedge fund portfolios at the end of the first half of 2021, compared to 48 funds in the previous quarter. Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) delivered a 3.36% return in the past 3 months.

Hedge funds’ reputation as shrewd investors has been tarnished in the last decade as their hedged returns couldn’t keep up with the unhedged returns of the market indices. Our research has shown that hedge funds’ small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of outperformance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 115 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that underperformed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of underperformance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.

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Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.