Philip Morris May Raise Tobacco Prices, Analyst Says
New York, Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Philip Morris Cos., the biggest tobacco company, may raise cigarette prices for the second time this year to cover an increase in federal excise taxes coming in January, an analyst said.
The company, which makes Marlboro and Benson & Hedges cigarettes, could increase prices by 8 cents a pack in November, and rivals likely would follow, said Robert Campagnino, a tobacco analyst with Prudential Securities Inc. Consumers probably wouldn't see the increase until 2002 because of promotions Philip Morris has planned for the end of the year, he said.
Excise taxes for cigarette wholesalers and retailers will rise by 5 cents a pack in January, and manufacturers will probably raise prices to protect retailers' profits and keep orders up, Campagnino said. In April, Philip Morris led the industry in a 14- cent-per-pack increase to cover costs from the 1998 settlement of tobacco lawsuits between the industry and 46 states.
``Absent a price increase, we believe that we could see a repeat of January 2000, where less-sophisticated retailers failed to plan for the (federal excise tax) increase and face financial difficulties,'' Campagnino said in a report. He has a ``buy'' rating on Philip Morris and said he doesn't own any shares.
Philip Morris spokesman Tom Ryan declined to comment.
Four years ago, Congress approved legislation that raised the cigarette tax incrementally to 39 cents a pack, from 24 cents, by 2002.
Bonnie Herzog, a tobacco analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston, said last week that Philip Morris will ``initiate a modest price increase'' toward the end of this month, though she didn't say how much. Herzog has a ``buy'' recommendation on Philip Morris and doesn't own any shares.
Shares of New York-based Philip Morris rose 40 cents to $49.85. They have risen 60 percent in the past year.