Altria's second-quarter results were about as good as they could be: so good that the company has increased its guidance for the year. The quarterly earnings-per-share growth of 2%, in spite of a 6.6% decline in revenue, wasn't a complete surprise. Altria has done a great job of managing expenses lately.
But flagship brand Marlboro's stellar quarterly market share increase, up 1.6 points from 41.2 to 42.8 points, had to bring the swagger back to Altria's marketing team. These premium products had seen some solid market share decreases recently, and Altria was again able to show that the Marlboro name does mean something to consumers. Of course, everyone, including the FDA, thought Marlboro was the cool kid in class, but Marlboro has proven it with a record market share number.
OK, so its domestic cigarette volumes are down by 10.2%: What a surprise, eh? But Altria served up a 9.2% increase in smokeless tobacco volume for the quarter, with Copenhagen volume up 12.8% on numerous new product introductions. Altria's overall market share for smokeless tobacco products increased by 1.8 points for the quarter, and it now sits on 56% of the smokeless segment.
And if someone's gaining market share, then someone else must be the loser. For this quarter, make that Reynolds American
The story here, though, is Altria. And whether we're talking about its domestic competitors Lorillard
Right now, though, Altria is showing everyone how to sizzle instead of merely keep the flame alive.