Cigarettes smell bad. They stain your teeth. They can cause cancer. But they also make shareholders of their makers a ton of money. Though they all contribute equally to “the problem”, the easiest name to pick on among the cigarette producers is the prolific Altria (MO).
Even being a target, however, hasn’t kept MO stock down. Since 1994, when the anti-smoking ball really got rolling, MO stock has advanced 745%, hitting new all-time highs near the end of last year.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, don’t worry about the statistics that suggest smoking is on the decline. The percentage of the world’s populous that smokes has fallen since 1980, but population growth has more than offset the dip in the total number of smokers. That’s how Altria has managed to continue growing revenue, albeit slowly, in the face of health concerns.