Altria Group, Inc. is a US-based tobacco company and one of the Big-3 tobacco companies internationally. The company was formerly known as Phillip Morris International but emerged with its new name in 2003. The rebranding was intended to help the company improve its image while it shifted away from the smokeable tobacco segments of the business. It is a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500. The company was a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for many years but fell from that position due to declining tobacco sales and the divestiture of businesses.
The company operates through a network of subsidiaries that include Phillip Morris USA. Phillip Morris USA is the core segment of business and includes the Marlboro line of cigarette brands. German immigrant Phillip Morris originally founded Phillip Morris in London in 1822. In 1844 the company began making its first line of machine-rolled cigarettes called English Ovals. The English Ovals remained in production in limited quantities until 2017.
By 1902 the company had moved to New York City, where it was incorporated. Operations continued uninterrupted until 1919, when it changed ownership, and then, in 1929, manufacturing operations were moved to Richmond, Virginia and closer to the tobacco fields.
Philip Morris made headlines again in 1933 when it integrated its manufacturing operations. This was done more than 30 years ahead of federal regulations and a ground-breaking move for the industry and America. After another multi-decade run of uninterrupted operations, the company began a series of acquisitions that included Miller Brewing, Kraft Foods and General Mills. Those acquisitions led to eventual mergers and spin-offs that resulted in SABMiller and Kraft General Mills.
Altria Group operates through a network of subsidiaries manufacturing and selling smokeable, smokeless and oral tobacco products. Subsidiaries include but not are limited to Philip Morris USA, John Middleton Inc. and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company. Brands include Marlboro, Marlboro Lights, Black & Mild, Copenhagen, Skoal, Red Sky and Husky. The company's principal customers are wholesalers and large retailers.
The company maintains a number of strategic partnerships as part of its efforts to shift away from smokeable tobacco. These include a 35% stake in JUUL smokeless tobacco products, a 45% stake in Canadian integrated cannabis company Cronos Group and a near-10% stake in ABInbev. These partnerships are intended to capitalize on smokeless tobacco and the legalization of cannabis at the US federal level.
Altria brought in more than $21 billion in 2021. The company employs more than 6,000 people and has paid more than $6.5 billion in cumulative dividends. The company’s operations help support more than 1,200 US farmers and are sold in over 300,000 US retail establishments. Altria continues to be a leader in workforce quality and has received numerous awards, including a spot on the National Business Consortium’s Best of the Best List for 2022.