All Quiet on the Altria Front

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All Quiet on the Altria Front

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Since the final decision was issued in the last of three different lawsuits against the tobacco industry that included Altria's subsidiary Philip Morris International, the company has remained silent about its previously announced plans to spin-off its Kraft Foods division in an effort to make it more profitable to shareholders.

No information about the possible split was released at a board meeting this week, however quarterly dividend was raised 7.5 percent, to 86 cents a share.

Two years ago, chief executive Louis Camilleri, who had proposed splitting the company into two or more segments, said that the three multi-billion dollar lawsuits against the tobacco industry would have to be settled before the Kraft spin-off was started.

Analysts and investors were anticipating the announcement of plans at the meeting Wednesday. "There were no announcements of a Kraft spin, but absolutely anticipate one in the near term or in the next one to two months," said Bonnie Herzog, a food industry analyst for Citigroup in a note to investors. "Currently, no impediments exist for a spin, and we do not believe the company is confined to a small window of opportunity in which it must jump the gun," she added.

Tara Carraro, spokeswoman for Altria, said that the company will not comment when the board will make such a decision.

In other Phillip Morris news, the company has decided to continue to do business with Day Wholesale, of Tupper Lake, N.Y., one company of many that face a lawsuit for selling untaxed cigarettes through Indian reservations, reported Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Originally, Phillip Morris stopped business with the wholesaler in January, knowing that it sold untaxed products to retailers that in turn, provide the tax-free cigarettes to non-Native Americans. Day Wholesale -- in accordance with state law – sells untaxed cigarettes and tobacco products on Native American reservations, which are outside of state and federal jurisdiction, the newspaper reported.

Last week, Philip Morris announced that it would continue to do business with Day Wholesale until legal issues over tax enforcement was resolved, reported Adirondack Daily Enterprise.