Big Tobacco is being hit by challenges across the spectrum -- lawsuits, declining smoking rates, and new packaging rules -- but some companies have been able to claim victories of a sort.
But the law firm representing the plaintiffs vowed to bring the case back to trial, since eight of 12 jurors supported damages, one vote shy of what was required.
And the lawsuits just keep on coming. (That's all part of the reason that Altria is the most-watched tobacco stock.)
In West Virginia, a trial began to resolve some 600 smoking-related personal-injury cases. The suit targets Altria; Reynolds American
With increasingly stringent smoking regulations and ongoing lawsuits, what's a tobacco investor to do?
The tobacco companies themselves are turning to alternative smokeless products such as snus. With a social stigma increasingly attached to smoking and more prohibitions on public smoking, such oral smokeless tobacco offers an interesting alternative.
In a bid to tack on incremental revenues, some companies have even ventured into smoking-cessation aids. For example, Reynolds acquired Niconovum in 2009.
Also on the horizon are non-traditional tobacco forms, including those by Star Scientific
But any such alternative products comprise just a small portion of these giants' revenue streams.
One answer is to turn abroad, but be careful. British American Tobacco
A better alternative is Philip Morris International
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Jim Royal, Ph.D., owns shares of Philip Morris. The Motley Fool owns shares of Philip Morris and Altria. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Philip Morris and creating a bear put ladder position in Lorillard. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.