Philip Morris to 'Unleash the Beast'in 2008?

December 10, 2007 - - Citigroup tobacco analyst Bonnie Herzog said during CSPNetwork's Tobacco Update CyberConference on Wednesday (12/5/2007)that there are some exciting things that could happen in the next year or two. Kicking off the excitement will be the spinning off of Philip Morris International from Altria Group, which New York City-based Herzog is confident will occur in the first quarter of the year. "I think it will make Philip Morris in the U.S. much more aggressive," she said, referring to the tobacco manufacturer's opportunity to "unleash the beast" within itself. "I think it will encourage them to become much more innovative. I think they will cut costs. I think they will buy back their stock. I think they will look at acquisitions." The company has already shown an interest in acquisitions with its recent intent to purchase the John Middleton cigar company. Herzog speculated on additional acquisition opportunities, including the likelihood that Philip Morris could buy the Swedish Match smokeless tobacco company. Herzog also said it will be Philip Morris' first real opportunity to battle Lorillard Tobacco Co.'s Newport menthol cigarettes; latest conflict. (Growth of menthol cigarettes segment.) While Herzog doesn't expect approval of the current legislation that would put that regulation in the hands of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), she said eventual regulation will occur. (Philip Morris to 'Unleash the Beast'? by Steve Holtz, CSP Daily News, December 10, 2007)