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Altria's Big Growth Potential in the Marijuana Industry

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By Wednesday, 02 January 2019 08:47 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The legal marijuana industry is exploding. In the United States, use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is now legal in over 30 states. Recreational use is also increasingly being adopted, in the U.S. and other countries. Canada legalized recreational marijuana last year, and after the 2018 midterm elections, a total of 10 U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana.

While the expanding legalization of marijuana might seem like a gold mine, investors should approach marijuana stocks with caution. There are over 100+ publicly-traded marijuana stocks, many of which are likely to deliver poor returns because of unproven business models. As a result, investors looking for exposure to marijuana with the added stability of dividends should consider Altria Group (MO) to be the top marijuana stock.

A Modern-Day Gold Rush

For investors, the potential of the legal cannabis industry is simply too tantalizing to ignore. Estimates vary, but most indications are that marijuana is going to be a huge business. For example, on September 18th the Chief Executive Officer of Canadian marijuana producer Tilray (TLRY) said in an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer that marijuana could soon be a $150 billion industry. With numbers like that, it is easy to see why so many companies would want to enter the industry.

While the situation for businesses in the United States is more difficult than in Canada, due to the fact that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, Altria’s recent moves indicate it also sees the potential. On December 7th the company announced a $1.8 billion investment in Canadian marijuana producer Cronos Group. Per the agreement, Altria will acquire a 45% equity stake in Cronos, as well as the right to nominate four directors to serve on Cronos Group’s Board of Directors.

In addition, the agreement includes a warrant to acquire an additional 10% ownership interest in Cronos Group at a price of C$19.00 per share, exercisable over four years from the closing date. Altria will help Cronos accelerate its research and development capabilities. While Cronos Group currently has no U.S. operations, this is poised to change rapidly if and when marijuana becomes legal at the federal level.

A Marriage Made In Heaven?

In many ways, tobacco giant Altria—which sells the Marlboro brand in the United States—is an ideal fit for a major push into the marijuana industry. Altria’s manufacturing and distribution capabilities are perfectly situated to process marijuana products, in the same way it processes tobacco products. And, with Altria’s massive size and prized retail shelf space, it is conceivable that the company could quickly scale its own marijuana products.

One day, perhaps in the not-too-distant-future, consumers might see packages of Marlboro Greens next to Marlboro Reds. In the meantime, Altria offers investors a secure 6.6% dividend yield, and regular dividend increases each year. This makes Altria stock a high-yield dividend stock for investors looking for exposure to the high-growth marijuana industry.

Ben Reynolds is CEO of Sure Dividend. Sure Dividend helps individual investors build high quality dividend growth stock portfolios for the long run.

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In many ways, tobacco giant Altria—which sells the Marlboro brand in the United States—is an ideal fit for a major push into the marijuana industry.
altria, growth, potential, marijuana, industry
Wednesday, 02 January 2019 08:47 AM
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