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FDA rule proposals a buy opp for tobacco stocks?

July 29, 2017

Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog said Friday that a new Food and Drug Administration plan to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes could be a long-term opportunity for makers of reduced-risk products like Altria Group Inc. MO, -9.49%and Philip Morris International Inc. PM, +0.27% Shares of cigarette producers plunged after the FDA announcement, with Altria plummeting 9.6%, Philip Morris declining 0.4% and British American Tobacco BTI, -7.04% plunging 7.2% in extremely heavy midday trade. Altria and Philip Morris, however, have a “unique competitive advantage” with smokeless iQOS devices. Philip Morris said “iQOS heats the tobacco just enough to release the flavorful nicotine-containing vapor but without burning the tobacco.” Even so, one medical journal study found that smoke from heat-not-burn cigarettes have 85% of the nicotine in conventional cigarettes. “We see this as an opportune entry point for long-term investors and would recommend building positions on today’s broad weakness,” Herzog said. “We also note that PM/MO’s premarket tobacco product application with the FDA to commercialize iQOS in the U.S. remains under review.” Altria shares have dropped 6.9% over the last three months and Philip Morris shares have risen 5.8%, compared with a 3.6% rise in the S&P 500 SPX, -0.13%


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