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This quarter Altria Group, Inc (NYSE:MO) surpassed last year earning by 13.6%. The reason appears to be because of overall business cost reduction. Revenue is over $6.1 billion for the fourth quarter. It is expected that earnings growth momentum will continue at a relatively strong pace.

The company is the largest in the tobacco industry.

Selected peers for comparative analytics are graded below on my Report Card along with MO. My four selected companies include: Phillip Morris Int'l, Inc. (NYSE:PM), Reynolds American, Inc (NYSE:RAI), Lorillard, Inc. (NYSE:LO), and British-American Tobacco, p.l.c. (NYSEMKT:BTI). At this time, I suggest there is no immediate prospect to buy or short any of these securities.

Altria is working on relations with smokeless tobacco products. Furthermore, the development of a non-combustible nicotine-containing product for adults is moving very well. The old story continues with the Food and Drug Administration quest to ban all smoking. The FDA has also proposed a ban on menthol filters and other devices.

Alteria will likely shrink a bit in its earning growth over the next couple of years. This seems to be the theme when reviewing many companies' earnings valuations. The four peers mentioned above appear to have improved future earnings growth. Nonetheless, I cannot find sufficient fundamental support for the above earnings or positives on the technical charts to consider these companies timely buys.

Fundamental Valuation

Valuation for MO, PM, RAI, LO, BTI:

Symbol

Price

Projected Price

Fundamental Valuation & Technical Chart Opinion

MO

32

plus 4+% / minus 16+%

An average fundamental valuation. Technically, it is in a long-term up trend. Leading technical indicators are not favorable to take near-term bullish positions. Consensus opinion is not supportive. Caution is advised at current prices.

PM

87

plus 8+% / minus 14+%

An above average fundamental valuation. Technically, it is in a long-term up trend. Leading technical indicators are not favorable to take near-term bullish positions. Consensus opinion is supportive. Caution is advised at current prices.

RAI

41

plus 5+% / minus 20+%

A below average fundamental valuation. Technically, it is in a long-term up trend. Leading technical indicators are not favorable to take near-term bullish positions. Consensus opinion is not supportive. Caution is advised at current prices.

LO

128

plus 5+% / minus 14+%

A below average fundamental valuation. Technically, it is in a long-term up trend. Leading technical indicators are not favorable to take near-term bullish positions. Consensus opinion is not supportive. Caution is advised at current prices.

BTI

100

plus 6+% / minus 16+%

Fundamentals are not strong enough to pay for the current strong Technical condition.

Source of raw data: Yahoo Finance. Projected Price is calculated and produces a probable range of the current price over the coming three to six months. Fundamental Valuation & Technical Opinion is calculated and translated into a Rating. See the below Report Card. I often suggest cash and patience as an alternative.

Click to enlarge.

Report Card

Company Symbol

Fundamental - weighting (40%)

Technical - weighting (35%)

Consensus - weighting (25%)

Rating: ( 0 - 100 / A - F )

MO

Good

Very Good

Good

81 / B

PM

Very Good

Very Good

Very Good

84 / B

RAI

Good

Very Good

Good

78 / C

LO

Good

Very Good

Good

80 / B

BTI

Good

Very Good

Good

81 / B

Rankings range from Excellent to Very Poor. Ratings below 90 / A are not current (never are) candidates for buying. Ratings above 60 / F are not current (never are) candidates for short selling. All information and data are in constant flux and can change from a neutral rating (60 to 90 / D to B) to a buy or short sale in just a few weeks.

Industry Status

The tobacco industry is and has been very strong both fundamentally and on the charts. MO is technically in sync with its fundamentals and is in stride with its industry. That fact is not enough for me. Out-performance is a necessary criterion for making any investment.

Market Status

The general market is currently over-valued, over-bought and is showing signs of serious deterioration, especially in the area of breadth. This means that you must consider holding cash or perhaps take bearish positions in the coming weeks.

My analytic focus is investing wisely, e.g. taking advantage of the bull / bear cycles as they occur within the overall marketplace. Integrating modern and conservative fundamental analytics within these technical cycles means maintaining a process of the thorough and ongoing analytics of many companies, sectors and industry groups. Consensus analysis is often overlooked by investors but represents a support or aversion that is also important. I believe this is a vital discipline in the analytic process of investing wisely. Please have a long comparative look at the below 20 year chart. I use SPDR - S&P 500, (NYSEARCA:SPY) as my general market reference to all securities that I review.

Professors Opinion

These companies all look very similar. The positive and negative information and data are not all that much different for any of the tobacco giants. However, all of these companies currently have both their fundamentals and technicals trading in sync with each other. Within my analytics, this is a mandatory condition for me to take any bullish or bearish positions. Despite the large percentage rise in price over the past year or so I still cannot consider investing at this time. I keep my notes for each security review and will have another look in a few months.

Conclusion

Within this time frame, I am presently bearish on the general market. I have focused my recent postings in Instablog on securities that I believe should not be currently held in your portfolio. It is important to understand that holding cash can be a wise choice during time frames that are questionable. (This is definitely a questionable time frame).

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: Altria And Selected Peers: Report Card