Is it really fair to compare the world-traveling Philip Morris International
Even though the key products are the same, the markets are different, and this time around, Philip Morris more than outshined its former parent.
In its first-quarter results, Altria managed to meet analysts' expectations, but that's about it. All of Altria's cigarette product groups, including Marlboro, lost market share, signaling potential issues for the company's premium flagship product.
But Altria's fair-haired counterpart, Philip Morris, served up some smoldering numbers for its first quarter, with the company increasing 2011 EPS guidance by $0.20. Yes, half of the increase can be attributed to favorable exchange rates, but Philip Morris also projects overall business will be stronger than previously forecast.
Demonstrating continued pricing power, Philip Morris' revenue was up by 4.5% (or 2.7% excluding acquisitions and currency effects). Operating income jumped by 10.8%, and EPS increased by 17.8%, to $1.06, versus the forecasted EPS of $1.04.
Philip Morris also was a cash-making machine, boosting free cash flow by 22.6% to $2.2 billion for the quarter, and buying-back $1.36 billion of shares.
In spite of the shaky European economic environment, volume losses are starting to stabilize. In its fourth quarter, Philip Morris's organic cigarette volume declined by 5.1% compared with a 3.3% decline for the first quarter. Shipment volume continues to be on fire throughout Asia with a quarterly increase of 14%.
Philip Morris' market share was down by 0.4 points in the EU, but the company delivered stable or growing share in many countries, including Indonesia, Japan, and Mexico. And the company is trying to stay a step ahead of leading competitor British American Tobacco
These global acquisitions continue to be important for Philip Morris as questions remain about the long-term strength of the Marlboro brand. Reynolds American
Regardless, through its premium Marlboro brand or acquired global products, Philip Morris is setting itself for global dominance. Good news for patient investors, or as Austin Powers would say: "It's groovy, baby!"
Fool contributor Colleen Paulson does not hold positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. Philip Morris International is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. The Fool owns shares of Altria and Philip Morris International. For more investing insight, you can always give the Fool's newsletters a try via the 30-day free trial. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.