Fitch Ratings - review of events that could adversely affect the U.S. tobacco industry..

November 27, 2009 - Fitch Ratings, an international credit rating agency expects U.S. tobacco corporate ratings to remain stable in 2010 as the tobacco companies continue to generate sizeable free cash flow as a result of high operating margins.

"Due to the sizable cash flow generated by industry participants, past credit rating changes have mostly been precipitated by events, such as adverse legal judgments and merger and acquisition activity," said Christopher Collins, Associate Director at Fitch. "Fitch believes that the risk of an event being material enough to cause a change in existing tobacco company ratings in 2010 is nominal."

See the Fitch's review of events with the greatest ability to adversely affect ratings and the expected likelihood of those events occurring, Fitch Ratings, 11/18/2009.