Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc forecast 2021 profit below estimates on Thursday, saying it would spend more on developing and marketing noncombustible tobacco products this year, including those that can be heated. The company forecast 2021 adjusted profit between $4.49 and $4.62 per share, lower than the Refinitiv IBES estimate of $4.63, but higher than the $4.36 adjusted per-share profit it posted last year. Altria also said it recorded a non-cash pre-tax unrealized gain of $100 million as a result of an increase in fair value of its investment in Juul, after taking several writedowns on its $12.8 billion investment in the e-cigarette maker.
The company, which took a 35% stake in Juul in December 2018, also said its board had authorized a $2 billion share buyback program.
Net revenue rose 4.9% to $6.30 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.
Altria’s shares rose marginally in pre-market trading.
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