Acquisitions that meet expectations and are accretive to earnings are great. Acquisitions that cause a company to raise its guidance are even better.
Now, you may not think that is such a big deal, since it's a mere 1%. But for a mature grower like Big Mo, finding an extra 1% is never an easy thing to do.
During the quarter, Philip Morris International added in two tobacco acquisitions: Sampoerna from Indonesia and Coltabaco from Colombia. Sampoerna was a big one, and my colleague Seth Jayson had much to say about it. Coltabaco is 16 times smaller (based on the acquisition prices), but it holds a 48% market share in Colombia. Sampoerna is expected to increased earnings by $0.03 to $0.04 in 2005, contributing to a 25% volume increase across Altria's Asian region.
Altria financed the Sampoerna acquisition with debt, and the total cost has come out to $4.8 billion. As such, Altria's debt-to-equity ratio increased from 0.75 to 0.83. While that may seem to have increased Mo's riskiness, remember that this company produces tons of cash. Too bad there wasn't a cash flow statement with the release, or I would go into those details.
But nevertheless, during the same quarter, its interest coverage ratio (EBIT/interest) increased from 13 to 14. So there is no need to lose sleep over its use of debt, especially when buying a solid company in a growing marketplace like Indonesia. All said, though, we'd do well to keep an eye on how this ratio moves over the full-year period, since quarterly numbers are sometimes susceptible to "blips" or anomalistic tendencies not reflective of longer-term trends.
As for the rest of the results, sales were up 8% and gross profits were up 5.5%; net income increased only about 1% because of higher tax provisions and costs associated with discontinued operations. In June, Kraft
As we know, Big Mo is a great company. You get international exposure, consistent growth, and a great capital allocator. It's hard to believe you could pick up shares for $45 in September 2004, and it's also hard to believe the yield is still 4.4%. Big Mo just keeps cranking out the cash and giving it back to shareholders. As has been said in the past, Altria continues to do well for its long-term shareholders. If you're interested in buying into this great company, I advise waiting for the inevitable dips in its stock price.
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