Altria Group is planning to spin off Philip Morris International seeking faster overseas growth and less risk from U.S. smokers’ lawsuits.
“Tobacco is growing overseas, while in the U.S. it’s in decline, making a reasonable argument for separating the two entities,” Matthew Kaufler, a fund manager at Clover Capital Manage told the Herald Tribune.
Altria shares are expected to climb as much as 8% on a Philip Morris International separation and a dividend increase, according to Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Citigroup. She rates the stock as “buy.”
While the company is spinning off to avoid its stock being affected by a negative tobacco spiral, some analysts said that Altria did not need to separate its tobacco units in order to reward shareholders with higher dividends and a stock buyback, according to the Tribune.
The two tobacco makers could become competitors while abandoning the opportunity to collaborate on new products, like snuff, and jointly reduce operating costs, according to Filippe Goossens, an analyst with Credit Suisse
“We view spinning off Philip Morris International now as Altria giving up too much strategic flexibility,” Goossens told the Tribune.