Altria Group (MO) Reports In-Line Q4 EPS, Revised Terms for Investment in JUUL
Altria Group (NYSE: MO) reported Q4 EPS of $1.02, in-line with the analyst estimate of $1.02. Revenue for the quarter came in at $0 versus the consensus estimate of $4.88 billion.
Altria Group sees FY2020 EPS of $4.39-$4.51, versus the consensus of $4.44.
- Altria recorded a fourth-quarter, non-cash pre-tax impairment charge of $4.1 billion related to its investment in JUUL. This impairment is primarily due to the increased number of legal cases pending against JUUL and the expectation that the number of legal cases against JUUL will continue to increase. Since October 31, 2019, the number of legal cases pending against JUUL has increased by more than 80%. Altria has not made any assumptions, or drawn any conclusions, regarding the merits or likelihood of success of any of these cases, litigation is subject to uncertainty and it is possible that there could be adverse developments in pending or future cases. For 2019, Altria recorded a total of $8.6 billion in non-cash pre-tax impairment charges to its JUUL investment, bringing the value of its JUUL investment to $4.2 billion as of December 31, 2019.
- Altria now expects a resolution with respect to antitrust clearance in the first half of 2020.
Revised Terms for Investment in JUUL
- Altria and JUUL agreed to revised terms governing Altria’s minority investment in JUUL, which include the following provisions:
- Altria and JUUL are focusing their work together to create compelling pre-market tobacco product applications (PMTA) based on rigorous scientific research and data-driven underage use prevention efforts. As a result, Altria will continue providing regulatory affairs services to JUUL, which includes supporting the company in preparing and submitting its PMTA. Altria will discontinue all other services by the end of March 2020 that were part of the original investment agreement.
- JUUL will, upon antitrust clearance from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, restructure its board of directors to consist of two directors designated by Altria, three independent directors, the JUUL CEO and three directors designated by JUUL stockholders other than Altria.
- Upon antitrust clearance, the restructured JUUL Board of Directors will add a nominating committee and a litigation oversight committee to its existing compensation and audit committees.
- Altria has the option to be released from its non-compete obligation if JUUL is prohibited by federal law from selling e-vapor products in the U.S. for at least a year, or if Altria’s carrying value of the JUUL investment is not more than 10% of its initial carrying value of $12.8 billion.
- “This agreement is a continuation of the reset initiated by JUUL’s leadership team.” said Willard. “We look forward to working with the company under this structure to support JUUL’s commitment to working with regulators and submitting the best possible PMTA.”
For earnings history and earnings-related data on Altria Group (MO) click here.