True, Philip Morris International
As the company previously forecast, the strong dollar weighed on earnings. Excluding that pesky currency effect, Big Phil's 6.3% year-over-year earnings decline would've been an impressive 12.7% gain. Moreover, shipment volumes -- flat from the year-ago period -- show that customers continue to light up at the same rate during the recession. Given that former parent company Altria Group
Still, it's not outlandish to wonder whether smokers will flock to cheaper brands offered by competitor British American Tobacco
Finally, while Philip Morris International sees isolated headwinds resulting from an upcoming tax increase in the Ukraine, the company's regulatory risk is small potatoes compared to its domestic brethren Vector Group
For those who have no qualms about investing in Big Cigs, Philip Morris International looks to have many of the advantages of a domestic producer -- including a 5.8% dividend -- with less downside risk.
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