It's darn tough to find a large-cap consumer-goods company with a more stable revenue outlook than Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM). Yet while the tobacco company is largely free of the domestic headwinds -- such as an additional $1.01-per-pack federal tax -- faced by its former parent, Altria Group (NYSE:MO), and Vector Group (NYSE:VGR), a different challenge to the bottom line comes in the form of foreign currency fluctuations.

Dollar up, dollar down, dollar heading ... ?
If you've been following the company's recent performance, you know that robust fourth-quarter 2008 operating results were overshadowed by the fact that a strong dollar depressed earnings per share from the year-ago period. Additionally, the company forecasts that foreign currency translation could negatively impact 2009 earnings to the tune of $0.80 per share -- an amount equal to 24% of 2008 earnings.

Given that the European Union has been decidedly less freewheeling than the United States when it comes to stimulus spending, it is tempting to assume that the dollar will eventually slump against the euro.

That may indeed be in the offing, but keep in mind that Philip Morris has significant risk exposure to emerging-market currencies as well, including the Russian ruble and the Ukrainian hryvnia. Exchange rates are all about relative strength, and on that note, it could be quite awhile before emerging-market countries regain their former appeal vis-a-vis the United States.

Further complicating the outlook are such unknowns as the Chinese call for the creation of a "super-sovereign reserve currency." Unfortunately for Philip Morris, I am assuming they don't mean Marlboro Reds. All in all, currency movements look susceptible to a real roller-coaster ride in the coming years.

An investment for your portfolio's humidor
I believe Philip Morris is a great company and a solid long-term investment. In fact, as consumers everywhere grow more bargain-focused, I see less trade-down risk with Philip Morris' products than those of consumer-staples giant Unilever (NYSE:UL) or even Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG). That said, investors should recognize that herky-jerky movements in foreign currency could translate into volatility in Philip Morris' bottom line and, in turn, its shares. For that reason, prospective investors might do best to focus on the company's ultrasafe-looking 6.1% dividend rather than a near-term appreciation in the share price.

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Fool contributor Mike Pienciak does not hold shares in any company mentioned. Procter & Gamble and Unilever are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy won't go up in smoke.