From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Altria Group, Inc.
Founded1985; 36 years ago (1985) (as Philip Morris Companies, Inc.)
FounderPhilip Morris, Kraft Foods Inc, Nabisco Holdings Corporation
HeadquartersReynolds Metals Company International Headquarters
Henrico County, Virginia, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Billy Gifford
(Chairman & CEO)
ProductsTobacco and wine
RevenueIncrease US$26.153 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020)[1]
Increase US$10.873 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020)[1]
Increase US$4.454 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020)[1]
Total assetsDecrease US$47.414 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020)[1]
Total equityDecrease US$2.925 Billion (Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020)[1]
Number of employees
8,300 (2018)[2]

Altria Group, Inc. (previously known as Philip Morris Companies, Inc.) is an American corporation and one of the world's largest producers and marketers of tobacco, cigarettes and related products. It operates worldwide and is headquartered in unincorporated Henrico County, Virginia, just outside the city of Richmond.

Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris USA (producer of Marlboro cigarettes), John Middleton, Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, Inc., and Philip Morris Capital Corporation. Altria also maintains large minority stakes in Belgium-based brewer ABInBev, the Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group, and the e-cigarette maker JUUL Labs. It is a component of the S&P 500 and was a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1985 to 2008, dropping due to spin-offs of Kraft Foods Inc. in 2007 and Philip Morris International in 2008.[3]


Former Altria Headquarters in Manhattan, New York.

Altria emerged from Philip Morris. The onset of "rebranding" of Philip Morris Companies to Altria took place in 2003 (Philip Morris would later split, with PM USA remaining Altria's primary and only consistently held asset). Altria was created because Philip Morris wished to emphasize that its business portfolio had come to consist of more than Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International; at the time, it owned an 84% stake in Kraft,[4] although that business has since been spun off.[5] The name "Altria" is claimed to come from the Latin word for "high" and was part of a trend of companies rebranding to names that previously did not exist, Accenture (previously Andersen Consulting) and Verizon being notable examples,[6] though linguist Steven Pinker suggests that in fact the name is an "egregious example" of phonesthesia—with the company attempting to "switch its image from bad people who sell addictive carcinogens to a place or state marked by altruism and other lofty values".[7]

The company's branding consultants, the Wirthlin Group, said: "The name change alternative offers the possibility of masking the negatives associated with the tobacco business", thus enabling the company to improve its image and raise its profile without sacrificing tobacco profits.[8]

Philip Morris executives thought a name change would insulate the larger corporation and its other operating companies from the political pressures on tobacco.[8]

The rebranding took place amidst social, legal, and financially troubled circumstances.[vague][9] In 2003 Altria was ranked Fortune number 11, and has steadily declined since. In 2010 Altria Group (MO) ranked at Fortune number 137, whereas its former asset, Philip Morris International, was ranked 94th.[10]

In 2006, a United States court found that Philip Morris "publicly ... disputed scientific findings linking smoking and disease knowing their assertions were false."[11] In a 2006 ruling, a federal court found that Altria, along with R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris were found guilty of misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.[12] Within this ruling, it was noted that "defendants altered the chemical form of nicotine delivered in mainstream cigarette smoke for the purpose of improving nicotine transfer efficiency and increasing the speed with which nicotine is absorbed by smokers."[13] This was done by manipulating smoke pH with ammonia. Adding ammonia increases the smoke pH, in a process called "freebasing" which causes smokers to be "exposed to higher internal nicotine doses and become more addicted to the product."[14]

On March 30, 2007, Altria's 88.1% stake in Kraft Foods was spun off, through a distribution of the remaining stake of shares (88.1%) to Altria shareholders. That same year, Altria began selling all its shares of Philip Morris International to Altria stockholders, a spin-off that was completed on March 28, 2008. Again in 2007 the company began the acquisition of cigar manufacturer John Middleton Co. from Bradford Holdings, which was complete in 2008. After Philip Morris International spun off, the former international subsidiaries halted the purchase of tobacco from America, which was a major factor in the closing of a newly renovated plant in North Carolina, an approximately 50% reduction in manufacturing, large-scale layoffs, and induced early retirements.[15]

In 2008, Altria officially moved its headquarters from New York City to Richmond, Virginia, after Philip Morris sold its downtown offices in New York City a decade earlier. With a few exceptions, all manufacturing, commercial, and executive employees had long been based in and around Richmond. Currently the company is headquartered in an unincorporated area within Henrico County, less than five miles west of the city limits of Richmond and less than ten miles from its downtown Richmond campus.

The "Altria Center for Research and Technology" in Downtown Richmond, Virginia, March 2020

Aside from the Philip Morris/Altria headquarters, some of their other buildings included the Altria Center for Research and Technology in downtown Richmond, their manufacturing center in South Richmond, and the adjacent operations center which began shutting down in 2007–2008, as a result of the loss of demand from PMI member companies. The layoffs beginning in 2007 affected thousands of Altria, Altria Client Services, Philip Morris USA, and contracted employees in Richmond and North Carolina.

In 2009, Altria finalized its purchase of UST Inc., whose products included smokeless tobacco (made by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company) and wine (made by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates).[16] This ended a short era of competition between the new Marlboro smokeless tobacco products such as snus, and those produced by UST Inc.

On December 8, 2018, Altria announced its intent to acquire a 45% stake in Cronos Group for $1.8 billion.[17]

On December 20, 2018, Altria finalized the acquisition of a 35% stake in JUUL Labs, an e-cigarette company based out of San Francisco, California, for $12.8 billion dollars.[18] On November 3, 2019, it was reported that Altria was taking a $4.5 billion writedown on its stake in Juul, 35% of its original value.[19]


For the fiscal year 2017, Altria reported earnings of US$10.208 billion, with an annual revenue of US$25.576 billion, a decline of 0.65% over the previous fiscal cycle. Altria's shares traded at over $66 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at over US$118.5 billion in October 2018.[20] As of 2018, the company ranked 154th on the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by revenue.[21]

Year Revenue
in mil. USD$
Net income
in mil. USD$
Total Assets
in mil. USD$
Price per Share
in USD$
2006 18,790 12,022 104,270 9.59
2007 18,664 9,786 57,746 11.98
2008 19,356 4,930 27,215 12.11
2009 23,556 3,206 36,677 11.06
2010 24,363 3,890 37,402 15.08
2011 23,800 3,377 36,751 19.25
2012 24,618 4,167 35,329 24.79
2013 24,466 4,535 34,859 28.70 9,000
2014 24,522 5,058 34,475 35.86 9,000
2015 25,434 5,231 31,459 47.86 8,800
2016 25,744 14,215 45,932 59.00 8,300
2017 25,576 10,208 43,202 66.74 8,300
2018 25,364 6,955 55,495 8,300
2019 25,110 −1,300 49,271 7,300

Corporate governance[edit]

Board of directors[edit]

Members of the board of directors of Altria Group as of February 2013 were:[22]


Prior to being based in Virginia, Philip Morris had its headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.[23] In 2003, Philip Morris announced that it would move its headquarters to Virginia. The company said that it planned to keep around 750 employees in its former headquarters. Brendan McCormick, a spokesperson for Philip Morris, said that the company estimated that the move would save the company over $60 million each year.[24] The company now has its head offices in an unincorporated area of Henrico County, Virginia, near Richmond.[25] In addition, the company has a 450,000-square-foot, $350 million Center for Research and Technology located in downtown Richmond at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park that employs approximately 600 scientists, engineers and support staff.

Political influence[edit]

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Altria spent around $101 million on lobbying the United States government between 1998 and 2004, making it the second most active organization in the nation.[26][27]

Altria also funded The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition which lobbied against the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.[28]

Daniel Smith, representing Altria, sits on the Private Enterprise Board of the American Legislative Exchange Council.[29]


In August 2006, the Altria group was found guilty of civil fraud and racketeering.[30][31] The lawsuit claimed that Altria's marketing of "light" and "low tar" cigarettes constituted fraudulent misrepresentations under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act (MUTPA) because it deceived smokers into thinking the products are safer than regular cigarettes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Altria Group, Inc. 2020 Annual Report (Form 10-K)" (PDF). Altria Group, Inc. 31 December 2021. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  2. ^ "2018 Annual Report (Form 10-K)" (PDF). Altria Group, Inc. February 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Altria, Honeywell Removed from DJIA; Bank of America, Chevron Added".
  4. ^ "Philip Morris completes its rebranding to Altria Group". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  5. ^ Dan Caplinger (15 March 2007). "Coca-Cola vs. Altria: Altria". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Altria Director Discusses Rebranding Company, CNNfn". Finance Wire. November 11, 2003.
  7. ^ Pinker, Steven (2007). The Stuff of Thought. Penguin Books. p. 304.
  8. ^ a b Smith, EA; Malone, RE (2003). "Altria Means Tobacco: Philip Morris's Identity Crisis". Am J Public Health. 93 (4): 553–6. doi:10.2105/ajph.93.4.553. PMC 1447789. PMID 12660196.
  9. ^ "Business Plan facts, information, pictures – articles about Business Plan".
  10. ^ "Fortune 500 2010: Top 1000 American Companies – Altria Group – MO – FORTUNE on". Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  11. ^ "The Verdict is In: Findings from United States v Philip Morris" (PDF). Tobacco Legal Consortium. 2006.
  12. ^ "In Ads, Tobacco Companies Admit They Made Cigarettes More Addictive". Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  13. ^ "United States of America v. Philip Morris USA, INC., (f/k/a Philip Morris, Inc.), et al. Civil Action No. 99-2496" (PDF).
  14. ^ van Amsterdam, Jan; Sleijffers, Annemarie; van Spiegel, Paul; Blom, Roos; Witte, Maarten; van de Kassteele, Jan; Blokland, Marco; Steerenberg, Peter; Opperhuizen, Antoon (December 2011). "Effect of ammonia in cigarette tobacco on nicotine absorption in human smokers". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 49 (12): 3025–3030. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2011.09.037. ISSN 1873-6351. PMID 22001171.
  15. ^ Walker, Dionne (2007-06-26). "Altria closing North Carolina plant". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  16. ^ "Our History – Altria: 2001-Present". Archived from the original on 2 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  17. ^ Speights, Keith (December 8, 2018). "Altria Buys a $1.8 Billion Stake in Cronos Group: 3 Things You Need to Know About the Monster Deal". The Motley Fool. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  18. ^ Wamsley, Laurel (20 December 2018). "Altria Buys 35 Percent Stake In E-Cigarette Maker Juul". NPR. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  19. ^ Duprey, Rich (2019-11-05). "Altria Can't Escape E-Cig Woes As It Wipes $4.5 Billion Off Juul Investment". The Motley Fool. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  20. ^ "Altria Revenue 2006-2020 | MO". Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  21. ^ "Fortune 500 Companies 2018: Who Made the List". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  22. ^ "Board of Directors" Archived 2018-07-16 at the Wayback Machine, Altria webpage; with associated bio pages. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  23. ^ "Contact Us." Philip Morris Companies. April 9, 2001. Retrieved on October 19, 2009.
  24. ^ "Philip Morris to Move Headquarters from New York City to Richmond, Va.." New York Daily News. March 5, 2003. Retrieved on October 19, 2009.
  25. ^ "Contact Us Archived 2009-10-11 at the Wayback Machine." Altria. Retrieved on October 19, 2009.
  26. ^ Archived from the original on 2007-11-24. Retrieved 2007-09-16. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ "Center for Public Integrity". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  28. ^ Monbiot, George (September 19, 2006). "George Monbiot on climate change and Big Tobacco". The Guardian. London.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-05-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Judge finds tobacco racketeering". 17 August 2006. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  31. ^ Levin, Myron. "Big Tobacco Is Guilty of Conspiracy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 May 2018.

External links[edit]