40.90 +0.06 (0.15%)
Pre-Market: 4:23AM EDT
|Bid||40.80 x 3200|
|Ask||41.02 x 1100|
|Day's Range||40.75 - 41.38|
|52 Week Range||40.75 - 66.04|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.38|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||12.19|
|Earnings Date||Oct 31, 2019|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||3.36 (8.13%)|
|1y Target Est||54.71|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- There are few quotations that have stuck with me over the years like the one delivered by the anti-tobacco scientist Stanton Glanz back in 2006, when I was writing an article about Altria Group Inc. Asked what his ultimate goal was, he didn’t say it was to get people to stop smoking. He said it was “to destroy the tobacco companies.”I thought of that line on Monday, the day after Purdue Pharma LP filed for bankruptcy, and the day ahead of the first court hearing before the respected U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain, in White Plains, N.Y.The filing was inevitable: No company can withstand over 2,600 lawsuits from states, counties, cities and Native American tribes all across the country.What was not inevitable was Purdue’s proposed solution. As part of its bankruptcy filing, Purdue unveiled a settlement proposal that would set up a trust to give cash to those affected by the opioid crisis it helped trigger with its primary product, the painkiller OxyContin. The money, which Purdue estimated at around $10 billion, would come from the company’s present and future profits, as well as $3 billion from Purdue’s owners, heirs of founders Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler. Some 24 states were backing the settlement, along with five territories and over 1,000 counties. But other states are opposing the settlement, including Massachusetts. In an op-ed article in The Washington Post on Monday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey explained why. The proposed settlement, she wrote, “doesn’t hold the company or its owners accountable.” After documenting Purdue’s undeniable role in the crisis — “We uncovered a scheme to get more patients on opioids, at higher doses, for longer periods of time,” she wrote, even as the Sacklers were pocketing billions — she declared: “Accountability means making the Sackler family reach into their own pockets. It means telling the whole truth. It means shutting down Purdue for good.”That’s just crazy. The idea that shutting down Purdue will somehow be a societal good is exactly like saying that destroying tobacco companies is more important than getting people to stop smoking. The goal should be to provide money that government entities can use to combat the crisis. It should be to develop pain-relief drugs that are abuse resistant. It should be to find ways to manage severe pain without relying on drugs that addict and kill. Shutting down Purdue might give some attorneys general a notch on their belts, but it won’t help bring the opioid crisis to an end.At the hearing in White Plains on Tuesday — a sedate affair that mainly established the rules under which Purdue would continue to operate while in bankruptcy — the company’s lead attorney, Marshall Huebner of Davis, Polk & Wardwell, outlined the Purdue plan.A trust would be set up, controlled by the plaintiffs, that would dole out money to communities and individuals who had legitimate claims of being harmed by opioids. The trust would take control of Purdue, meaning that those who are now suing Purdue would effectively own the company. It would continue to manufacture OxyContin, but the owners would also be able to direct the company towards developing drugs to counteract opioid addiction. Meanwhile, Purdue profits would be sent to the trust.In the near term, Huebner said, the company’s goal was maximizing and preserving its value. That meant stopping the millions it was spending on lawyers — and the millions more it would be spending if it had to start trying cases. It meant retaining scientists and other key employees who were wondering whether they should jump ship. He described what Purdue was doing as “radically de-risking the situation,” in the sense that those suing the company were being guaranteed every penny Purdue could generate without the risk of losing at trial. Purdue, meanwhile, was eliminating the risk of being put out of business through litigation, which wouldn’t leave anywhere near the amount of money the plaintiffs were now going to get.“Purdue is not shielding itself from these claimants,” Huebner said. “It is giving itself to these claimants without them ever having to prevail in the litigation.” He added: “It is very much the best case for the country. Pursuing cases outside Chapter 11 benefits no one.”The real bone of contention between those who back the settlement and those who oppose it isn’t so much what will happen to Purdue as it is what will happen to the Sacklers. Huebner made much of the fact that the family would be selling another pharmaceutical company it owns to help raise the $3 billion. But that is exactly what galls critics like Healey: selling a company to raise money is different from taking money out of your pocket and handing it over to the people who are suing you.At the hearing, Purdue’s lawyers went out of their way to assure the court and the critics that the company was disassociating itself as much as possible from the Sacklers. No Sackler family member remained on the board. No Sacklers would get their legal fees paid by the company. No Sacklers would get any of the retention bonuses and other money the company was spending to hold onto key employees. Be that as it may, it seems pretty clear that critics like Healey won’t be satisfied unless the settlement inflicts more pain on the family.Right now, the bankruptcy has stopped all litigation against Purdue, including from the government entities that are opposing the settlement. Over the next few months, Judge Drain will have to decide whether the lawsuits brought by those who have not agreed to settle can continue. As Bloomberg News pointed out on Tuesday, while Drain could put all litigation on hold, the law tends to favor attorneys general who want to keep suing. If he allows the suits to continue, the settlement will fall apart. As the company put it in court papers, “Absent this protection [from lawsuits], the fundamental goal of this or any bankruptcy will have been thwarted.”A better approach would be to encourage the various government entities to forge a settlement with Purdue that excluded the Sacklers. Then they could continue suing family members, or craft a different settlement with them that took away a significant portion of the $13 billion they are said to be worth. Now that there are no Sacklers on the Purdue board, this strikes me as reasonably realistic.In 1981, Johns Manville, an insulation and roofing manufacturer facing thousands of lawsuits for covering up the dangers of asbestos, filed for bankruptcy. It was the first company to employ the technique Purdue hopes to use: It set up the Manville Trust and seeded it with 75 percent of the company stock. The trust pays out claims to this day. (Johns Manville, no longer associated with the trust, is now owned by Berkshire Hathaway.)Here’s the kicker, though. It took seven years for Johns Manville to emerge from bankruptcy and for the Manville Trust to be established. Even then, tens of thousands of people who had asbestos-related cancer had to wait another three, four or five years to get any compensation. And they received only pennies on the dollar.The entities affected by the opioid crisis — whether states, cities, tribes or individuals — can’t wait that long to get relief. They need it now. The settlement that was negotiated between Purdue and the plaintiffs will get them that money. That’s enough reason the settlement on the table is the best way forward, even if it doesn’t satisfy the soul.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Investing.com - Shares of tobacco company Altria Group (NYSE:MO) set a new 52-week low of $40.82 Wednesday after India announced a ban on e-cigarettes as a global backlash against vaping gathers pace.
(Bloomberg) -- India became the latest country to ban electronic cigarettes only days after Juul Labs Inc.’s products vanished from online Chinese marketplaces, a sign Asian nations may be no refuge for the industry from an escalating crackdown in the U.S.India’s government announced an executive order Wednesday banning the sale and production of all e-cigarettes, echoing growing concerns worldwide over health risks associated with the smokeless nicotine devices popular with teenagers.“Why are we debating if it’s more harmful or less? It is harmful. It is addictive,” said Preeti Sudan, India’s health secretary. “The entire next generation will be going down the drain if we don’t control it now.”Originally touted as a safer alternative to wean people off cigarettes, e-cigarettes have come under widespread attack in the U.S., especially for their appeal among youth. India’s decision follows similar prohibitions in about 27 other countries including Australia, Singapore and Brazil and comes on the heels of halted online sales of Juul’s products in China, the world’s largest tobacco market.‘Strong’ ActionDespite increasing global curbs on vaping, some nations view e-cigarettes as viable alternatives to smoking, a leading cause of preventable death. And though cigarette companies are getting into the electronic nicotine-delivery business -- including most notably a nearly $13 billion investment in Juul by Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. -- a vaping health scare could cause sales of the tobacco giants’ most important products to jump.Shares of cigarette makers in India gained on news of the ban.U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to “do something very, very strong” after the recent outbreak of a mysterious lung disease linked to vaping that has killed six people in the U.S. and afflicted hundreds of others. Lawmakers in the U.S. are also investigating the marketing of Juul, America’s top-selling e-cigarette brand.U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, told Juul Chief Executive Officer Kevin Burns in a letter dated Tuesday that the company had failed to produce all the documents requested by a House Oversight Committee and that further delay could result in the company receiving a subpoena.Juul only started selling its nicotine vaporizers online in China last week. Its official online stores disappeared on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall and JD.com Inc. by Tuesday, prompting speculation that official action may be on the way.Juul wasn’t given a reason for why its products were pulled, according to a person familiar with the matter, but said in a statement it wants to make them available again.No Reasons GivenThe latest developments in India and China come as a blow to vaping companies that were setting their sights on Asia, where 65% of the world’s cigarettes are sold, as increased pressure in the U.S. forces them to look for growth elsewhere. India alone has 266.8 million tobacco users, according to a WHO factsheet.It isn’t clear if China plans to ban or enforce stricter scrutiny of e-cigarettes or vaping devices. The country’s National Health Commission -- a body responsible for health and sanitation -- announced it was devising legislation for such products in July, arguing the “hazards of e-cigarettes should be highly valued.”The Chinese health commission also said labels describing nicotine concentration on many such products are vague, and can lead to excessive consumption by users.Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, has campaigned and given money in support of a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and tobacco.Some nations, however, view vaping as a lesser evil than smoking.Public health officials in the U.K., the biggest market in Europe for the products, endorse vaping as a way to wean people off smoking -- the prevailing view across Europe, where authorities are more sanguine about the effects of vaping.E-cigarettes allow users to satisfy their cravings by inhaling vaporized nicotine rather than tobacco smoke. Their popularity has soared in recent years driven by candy-like flavorings, sleek devices and savvy marketing.The U.S. Surgeon General called it an “epidemic,” after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters that 5 million American kids said they’ve vaped this year. The Food and Drug Administration has been investigating the safety of e-cigarettes after reports of seizures.(Updates with U.S. lawmaker’s letter to Juul Labs in eighth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Carolynn Look and Shruti Srivastava.To contact the reporters on this story: Ari Altstedter in Mumbai at firstname.lastname@example.org;Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachel Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org, Bhuma Shrivastava, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Vaping is a growing trend among youngsters, but Trump's recent threat to ban flavored e-cigarettes raises questions. Will traditional cigarette get back its lost glory?
The Trump administration is moving to ban flavored e-cigarettes, but one lawmaker says Trump has not acted quickly enough to combat the risks posed by vaping.
Investing.com – President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was looking into banning all non-tobacco flavored vaping products from the market. He made the comment to reporters at the White House.
Despite growing sales and wider legalization, many pot stocks have been insanely volatile as Wall Street and investors try to wrap their heads around the marijuana industry. So should you think about buying "cheap" Aurora Cannabis (ACB) Stock before Q4 earnings?
(Bloomberg) -- Juul Labs Inc. was warned by U.S. health officials that it may have violated the law by making claims its e-cigarette devices are safe. The letter increases pressure on the richly valued company at the same time a mysterious lung ailment is raising new questions about the health effects of vaping.The Food and Drug Administration sent Juul a warning letter on Monday that said the agency had determined that the company has marketed its products as less risky than cigarettes without gaining the agency’s approval. Juul has pitched its sleek, USB-like vaping device as a way for adults to quit smoking -- though the FDA said that the company also targeted students.The reprimand could foreshadow a tough road for Juul’s efforts to gain FDA clearance to continue selling its products, which all e-cigarette makers must do starting next year. The industry is under mounting scrutiny due to a surge in teenage vaping and recent deaths that public-health officials have connected to inhaling vapor from e-cigarettes.The FDA also sent Juul a letter requesting documents related to the company’s advertising and promotional efforts, given that its vape devices “continue to represent a significant proportion of the overall use” of e-cigarettes by children. Juul halted much of its social-media marketing last year after criticism that its stylish ads on Instagram and other apps targeted younger users.“Juul has ignored the law, and, very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless.“We are reviewing the letters and will fully cooperate,” Ted Kwong, a Juul spokesman, said.Nationwide ProbesFederal and state health officials are investigating a number of mysterious deaths from illnesses that have been connected to use of vaping devices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday it was investigating 450 cases of the ailment nationwide. Five people have died from the illness, the CDC says.In addition, the FDA has been looking into whether e-cigarettes are linked to seizures after receiving initial reports from Juul users. The investigation has widened into 127 reports of seizures linked to various types of e-cigarettes.Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, wrote Sharpless last week urging the agency to look into the claims Juul has made, including some before his House Oversight and Reform subcommittee. During a subcommittee hearing in July, Krishnamoorthi’s staff revealed that a Juul representative had told students that the company’s device “was much safer than cigarettes” and called the products “totally safe.” The FDA highlighted those statements Monday.The FDA told Juul that parts of its “Make the Switch” marketing campaign that encourages smokers to use its device convey that they’re safer than cigarettes. The agency asked Juul for any consumer-perception studies related to whether Juul’s representation implies the products are smoking-cessation devices. The FDA hasn’t approved any of the company’s products as smoking-cessation tools.Last week, Juul spokesman Ted Kwong disputed that the marketing was violating FDA rules.“Switching is not another word for cessation,” Kwong said. “They mean two very different things. Switching involves continuing to consume nicotine but from a different device, while cessation is about getting users to eliminate their nicotine consumption altogether. We are a switching product.”Juul is one of the most highly valued private companies in the U.S. Last year, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, Altria Group Inc., invested nearly $13 billion in Juul, giving it a valuation at the time of roughly $35 billion. Altria shares were little-changed in New York trading Monday, trading at $43.89 at 11:36 a.m.(Updates with Juul comment in sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Edney in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org, Timothy Annett, Rick SchineFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Federal agencies have announced that at least three deaths have been linked to vaping, as well as 450 possible severe lung illness in 33 states. Epidemic With the increased popularity of the electronic cigarettes is coming increasing signs of its harmful effects, as the Indiana Department of Health announced today the third death from lung illnesses linked to vaping. The first case of the illness was reported in Illinois back in April. Scare At first, the lung illnesses seemed limited to a few cases, but this summer it has developed into a widespread public health crisis, as teenagers and young adults that were otherwise in normal health would enter emergency rooms with shortness of breath and flu symptoms, requiring them to immediately be placed on ventilators. The New York Times noted that “public health officials have underscored one fundamental point: that the surge in illnesses is a new phenomenon and not merely a recognition of a syndrome that may have been developing for years.” Control The Center for Disease Control is currently investigating why vaping seems to be so harmful. There’s the well-reported fact that vaping often allows the user, especially if they’ve tampered with the e-cigarette device or purchased one off the street, to consume far more nicotine in a setting than they would from smoking a cigarette. But beyond that, the CDC believes that a chemical commonly found in vaping fluid could be responsible for the lung illnesses. Dr. David C. Christiani wrote in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine that the fluid contains “at least six groups of potentially toxic compounds.” While the CDC continues it investigation, the federal agency has urged the public to stop vaping. Big Tobacco The popularity of vaping was a boon to the tobacco industry, which has seen the popularity of cigarettes decline precipitously over the past decade, and the industry gian Altira invested 35% in JUUL, by far the most popular e-cig brand. But while sales have been robust, this year has been filled with negative headlines and government investigations for the industry, including a Food and Drug Administration crackdown on e-cig sales, and states such as Connecticut and North Carolina looking into whether JUUL marketed itself to young people. With the news of the rise of illnesses and deaths related to vaping, don’t be surprised if government agencies take even further steps to curtail the product’s reach. -Michael Tedder Photo by Adobe
Sep.06 -- Sudden, serious lung illnesses that have struck people who used vaping devices have been tied in many cases to products that contain THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Bloomberg's Craig Giammona has more on "Bloomberg Technology."