Phil Gorham: Tobacco valuations have taken a big hit over the last 12 months with large-cap global players Phillip Morris International and British American Tobacco down 30% and 50% respectively. Dividend yields are now at a very attractive range in the high single digits, and although we think dividend growth is likely to slow to the low single digits over the next few years, we do think the the dividends are safe and this represents a buying opportunity for investors.
Investors have been concerned about two things. First, the more assertive approach by the FDA to regulating the industry with proposed measures including a potential ban of menthol flavorings and even a reduction in nicotine levels. And the other thing investors are concerned about has been the recent weakness in the performance of the heated tobacco category in Japan. Iquos, PMI's popular heated tobacco device, will be making its way to the U.S. soon--perhaps this year--and investors that were hoping that heated tobacco would pick up the slack of falling cigarette consumption have been disappointed by a sudden slowdown and growth of the product in Japan.
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Philip Gorham does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.