Among followers of sin stocks, Altria is well-known as a sin stock. i’ve tried to simplify the company’s complicated history but I’m lazy (the sin of sloth!!!) so I’m giving you just the highlights.
The company originally started as Philip Morris Companies (MO) — owner of well-known tobacco brands like Marlboro, Players, Benson and Hedges, Virginia Slims, and more.
Over time, the company diversified, including a considerable stake in Kraft Foods and SABMiller. To reflect its changing culture, the company rebranded to the name Altria. Later, it spun off Kraft Foods (KFT). It still owns just over a quarter of SABMiller (SAB). Later, Philip Morris International (PM) spun off from Altria and now operates as its own identify, handling the international side of the business (while Altria continues to hold the US side of the business… which they probably do to confuse people as much as for strategic reasons).
Since its divestment of Kraft, Altria is refocusing on “sin” — namely, tobacco and wine. Altria owns Philip Morris USA, US Smokeless Tobacco Company, John Middleton Company (makers of cigars and pipe tobacco), Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, NuMark (a tobacco product innovation company), as well as some “non-sin-stock” holdings in manufacturing and real estate (likely the holder of all of the company’s capital assets) in their company Philip Morris Capital Corporation.
These holdings make Altria a tobacco sin stock and an alcohol sin stock! Double whammy!
As you can see from the stock chart below, Altria’s stock price plummeted at the same time as everyone else in late 2008 but it has since doubled in value while providing an impressive dividend yield of 5.2% (at the time of this writing)