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Universal to webcast conference call

| July 25, 2014

Universal Corporation is due to webcast a conference call from 17.00 hours Eastern Time on August 7 following the release of its results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 after market close on that date.

The conference call will be hosted by Candace C. Formacek, vice president and treasurer.

A live webcast of the conference call will be available online on a listen-only basis at www.universalcorp.com.

A replay of the webcast will be available at the same site until November 6, and a taped replay of the conference call will also be available from 20.30 hours on August 7 until August 20 on (855) 859-2056 using the telephone replay identification number 76784375.

Attempt to block Lorillard acquisition

| July 24, 2014

A Lorillard investor is going to court in an attempt to block the company’s billion dollar acquisition by Reynolds American, claiming the deal favors the buyer, according to a story by Sophia Pearson for Bloomberg News.

Reynolds said on July 15 that it would acquire Lorillard for cash and stock in a deal that values Lorillard at $68.88 a share.

But, according to the complaint made public yesterday in Delaware Chancery Court, the proposed deal is the product of a flawed process and provides little benefit to stockholders.

‘To the detriment of the company’s shareholders, the terms of the merger agreement substantially favor Reynolds and are calculated to unreasonably dissuade potential suitors from making competing offers,’ the investor, Vincent Valentino, said in the complaint. He is seeking to represent all Lorillard shareholders.

Valentino said that Lorillard shareholders wouldn’t benefit from a transaction that, as part of the deal, would see Imperial Tobacco Group acquire brands such as Kool and Blu e-cigarettes for $7.1 billion.

The complaint claims too that the deal is ‘unfair and inadequate because, among other things, the intrinsic value of Lorillard is materially in excess of the amount offered’.

Irish anti-tobacco campaigner inspired by US damages award against Reynolds

| July 24, 2014

An Irish anti-smoking campaigner has welcomed a US jury’s decision to order R.J. Reynolds Tobacco to pay $23.6 billion in punitive damages and are urging the government to mount its own court action, according to an Irish Daily Mail story.

The damages award is the subject of an appeal.

Professor Luke Clancy, of Dublin’s Tobacco Free Research Institute, was reported to have welcomed the jury’s ruling and said it should give the Irish government the confidence to take its own class or group action in the courts against tobacco companies.

“I have always advised that the government should take this on,” said Clancy, who is a respiratory consultant physician. “I think that would benefit the state and help to pay the medical costs being inflicted on the state.”

A jury in the Escambia Court, Florida, imposed the punitive damages award the day after it had determined that the widow of Michael Johnson Sr, Cynthia Robinson, should receive $17 million in compensatory damages in the ‘Engle’ case, even though the jury determined Johnson was 30 per cent responsible for his own illness.

Engle cases have been heard since a Florida Supreme Court decision in 2006 decertified a $145 billion class-action lawsuit filed by Howard Engle but allowed former class members to file individual lawsuits stating that cigarettes caused their respective illnesses.

Meanwhile, Ireland could have to pay hundreds of millions in compensation to tobacco manufacturers if standardized tobacco packaging is introduced there, according to a story in the Irish Times quoting Exane BNP Paribas.

The international research and equities firm, which is backed by France’s biggest bank BNP Paribas, said it believed the tobacco industry had a robust case against standardized packaging – a case that would allow it to claim billions in compensation in Europe.

In a note to investors in tobacco stocks, Exane BNP Paribas said it had taken legal advice on the potential arguments that could be used to seek compensation if standardized packaging could not be blocked altogether by big tobacco companies.

‘The strongest of the legal arguments, in our view, surrounds deprivation of

intellectual property,” it said.

Latvia’s exports down, imports up

| July 24, 2014

Latvia’s cigarette imports during the first five months of this year, at 1.485 billion, were up by 0.7 per cent on those of the first five months of 2013, 1.474 billion, according to a Baltic Business Daily story quoting figures from the Excise Goods Administration of the Latvian State Revenue Service (VID).

At the same time, imports of cigars and cigarillos were up by 2.3 per cent from 45.147 million to 46.198 million, while imports of smoking tobacco were down by 37.2 per cent from 22,411 kg to 14,076 kg.

Cigarette exports from excise goods warehouses during the first five months of this year, at 680.891 million, were down by 7.1 per cent on those of the first five months of 2013.

Exports of cigars and cigarillos, at 14.05 million, were down by 32.5 per cent, while exports of smoking tobacco, at 28 kg, were said to be several times lower than they were during the first five months of 2013.

In addition to the regular exports, 13.164 million cigarettes, 12,000 cigars and cigarillos, and 35 kg of smoking tobacco were delivered to ships, airplanes and tax-free stores during the first five months.

According to VID data, tobacco products were mainly exported to other EU member states.

German sales increase in second quarter

| July 24, 2014

The volume of taxed cigarettes sold in Germany during the second quarter of this year, at 20.2 billion, was 2.7 per cent higher than volume sales during the second quarter of 2013, according to a story in Die Welt quoting Federal Statistics Office figures.

‘Sales of cigars and cigarillos increased by 15.2 per cent in the reporting period, while turnover from pipe tobacco jumped by 24.9 per cent,’ the story said.

Meanwhile, Germany taxed tobacco products with a total sales value of €6.2 billion during the second quarter of the current year,

The sales value of the taxed cigarettes was 5.2 per cent, or €306 million, higher than the value of cigarettes taxed during the equivalent period of 2013.

The German cigarette association has warned smokers that they should expect price increases in August.

Sales down, share up at PM USA

| July 23, 2014

Philip Morris USA’s domestic cigarette shipment volume during the three months to the end of June, at 32,134 million, was down by 5.0 per cent on that of the three months to the end of June 2013, 33,819 million.

Marlboro shipments fell by 4.9 per cent to 27,679 million; shipments of other premium brands fell by 10.3 per cent to 1,829 million; while shipments of discount brands dropped by 1.3 per cent to 2,626 million.

PM USA’s share of the domestic retail cigarette market during the three months to the end of June, at 51.0 per cent, was increased by 0.3 of a percentage point on that of the three months to the end of June 2013. Marlboro’s share, at 44.0 per cent, was up by 0.3 of a percentage point, while the share of its other premium brands was down by 0.2 of a percentage point to 2.9 per cent and the share of the company’s discount brands was increased by 0.2 of a percentage point to 4.1 per cent.

The Altria Group yesterday published its second-quarter and first-half results for 2014.

Middleton’s cigar shipment volume during the three months to the end of June, at 331 million, was increased by 11.1 per cent on that of the three months to the end of June 2013, 298 million. Black & Mild brand shipments were up by 8.8 per cent to 320 million, while shipments of other brands increased from four million to 11 million.

Middleton’s share of the domestic retail cigar market during the three months to the end of June, at 29.4 per cent, was down by 0.2 of a percentage point on that of the three months to the end of June 2013. Black & Mild’s share was down by 0.4 of a percentage point to 29.0 per cent, while the share of other brands was up by 0.2 of a percentage point to 0.4 per cent.

USSTC and PM USA’s combined, domestic smokeless-products shipment-volume during the three months to the end of June, at 203.8 million cans and packs, was up by 1.6 per cent on that of the three months to the end of June 2013, 200.5 million.

Shipments of Copenhagen were up by 7.8 per cent to 115.0 million; those of Skoal were down by 6.1 per cent to 69.3 million; while those of other brands were down by 2.5 per cent to 19.5 million.

USSTC and PM USA’s share of the US domestic market for smokeless products during the three months to the end of June, at 55.1 per cent, was increased by 0.1 of a percentage point on that of the three months to the end of June 2013. Copenhagen’s share was up by 1.5 percentage points to 30.5 per cent; Skoal’s share was down by 1.1 percentage points to 20.6 per cent; while the share of other brands was down by 0.3 of a percentage point to 4.0 per cent.

Meanwhile, PM USA’s cigarette shipment volume during the six months to the end of June, at 60,883 million, was down by 3.8 per cent on that of the six months to the end of June 2013, 63,320 million. Marlboro shipments fell by 3.8 per cent to 52,495 million; shipments of other premium brands fell by 9.5 per cent to 3,458 million, while shipments of discount brands decreased by 0.3 per cent to 4,930 million.

Middleton’s cigar shipment volume during the six months to the end of June, at 605 million, was increased by 6.0 per cent on that of the six months to the end of June 2013, 571 million. Black & Mild brand shipments were up by 4.8 per cent to 590 million, while shipments of other brands increased by 87.5 per cent to 15 million.

USSTC and PM USA’s combined, domestic, smokeless-products shipment-volume during the six months to the end of June, at 389.9 million, was increased by 3.6 per cent on that of the six months to the end of June 2013, 376.2 million. Copenhagen shipments were up by 9.3 per cent to 218.9 million; Skoal shipments were down by 3.5 per cent to 133.3 million; while shipments of other brands were down by 0.3 per cent to 37.7 million.

Altria’s second-quarter reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased by 1.6 per cent to $0.64, and its second-quarter adjusted diluted EPS, which excludes the impact of special items, increased by 4.8 per cent to $0.65

Altria’s first-half reported diluted EPS decreased by 6.8 per cent to $1.23, and its first-half adjusted diluted EPS increased by 5.2 per cent to $1.22.

“During the first six months of 2014, Altria grew adjusted diluted EPS by 5.2 per cent behind solid performance by our companies’ leading premium brands and the strength of our diverse business model,” said Marty Barrington, Altria’s chairman and CEO.

“Our companies are delivering against their strategies and their full-year plans are on track. We thus are tightening our guidance and now expect to deliver full-year adjusted diluted EPS growth in a range of 7 per cent to 9 per cent.”

“We’re also pleased with our progress in innovative products. Nu Mark began its national expansion of MarkTen in June and is achieving strong distribution.

“Nu Mark also continues to integrate Green Smoke into its business platform, beginning with its supply chain capabilities.”

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