Altria’s investment in the Juul went from bad to worse.
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The Richmond, Virginia-based tobacco giant took a $4.1 billion write-down on its Juul investment in the fourth quarter, just three months after taking a $4.5 billion charge. Altria paid $12.8 billion for a 35 percent stake in the e-cigarette maker in November 2018.
The write-down drove a fourth-quarter loss of $1.8 billion, compared with a profit of $1.3 billion the prior year. Adjusted earnings were $1.02 a share, in line with estimates. Revenue fell 1.8 percent to $6 billion, easily beating the $4.9 billion that analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting.
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“Despite the unexpected challenges related to our investment in Juul, which led to impairment charges and reported losses, we made significant progress advancing and building our noncombustible business platform,” CEO Howard Willard said in a statement.
Juul has faced increased scrutiny from the Trump administration over the rise in vaping among youths as well as consumer worries over a spate of severe lung illnesses and deaths among e-cigarette users.
Since October, the company said the number of legal cases against Juul have spiked 80%. More than 2,500 cases of vaping illness have been reported by all 50 states. There have been 54 deaths, and more deaths are under investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.