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Marlboro-Maker Altria Takes $4.5 Billion Hit on Juul E-cigarettes

According to a Chicago-Tribune report, “Marlboro-maker Altria is taking a big financial hit from its multibillion-dollar bet on e-cigarettes.”

Today, the tobacco super giant slashed the value of its investment in the vaping company, Juul Labs, by a third, resulting in a financial loss for the quarter.

The Richmond, Virginia-based Altria bought roughly a third of Juul for $13 billion last December. But said they would take a $4.5 billion write-down on the investment in the wake of a growing public health concerns about the effects of Juul and the vaping industry, overall.

Since last year, Juul has been hit by new federal and state investigations into its marketing and whether or not its advertising encouraged ungerage vaping activity, and also a number of illnesses and deaths related to vaping have been reported.

Altria executives said the cut in Juul’s value reflects “recent vaping bans by state and local authorities and expected restrictions from the federal government. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon outline new restrictions on vaping flavors, a step intended to curb youth appeal,” according to the Tribune article.

Altria Group Inc. “posted a quarterly loss of $2.6 billion, or $1.39 per share, for the period ended Sept. 30. Those results included the $4.5 billion pretax write-down of Juul. Adjusted earnings of $1.19 per share beat the average Street estimate of $1.14 per share, based on an analyst survey by Zacks.”

Altria, who also makes Marlboro cigarettes and Copenhagen chew, is moving toward a business model that is less dependent on tobacco “amid steady declines in smoking.”

Altria, “which owns Philip Morris USA,” said “total revenue was virtually flat at $6.86 billion.” Its adjusted revenue, which excludes excise taxes, totaled $5.41 billion and beat estimates.

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About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers’ State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!

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