#1: Altria Group
If bigger is better, than Altria Group (NYSE:MO) is the best banana in the bunch. Its $72 billion market cap is three times as big as the next-nearest competition, and its market share of cigarette smokers correlates with the company’s size.
Perhaps more impressive is the consistency with which Altria grows its bottom line. In every year from 2009 through 2011, every quarter’s per-share profit was higher than the year-ago comparable. And, had the company not spun off Kraft (NASDAQ:KFT) in 2007, that growth streak would go back for years. It’s amazing, just because the stumbling blocks that other cigarette makers have been dogged by (like smokers giving up the habit and expensive lawsuits judgments) just don’t seem to be an issue for Altria Group.
In other words, numbers don’t lie — Altria is doing it better than the rest. And, that forward-looking P/E of 15.1 means investors don’t have to pay a premium to get in on the action.
At the time of this writing, Jame Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.