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Philip Morris Starting To Look Attractive Again

The recent market selloff has certain names starting to look attractive. One of those is cigarette giant Philip Morris (NYSE:PM), which has fallen below $80 a share again. Currently, investors are yielding over 5.00% on the dividend, and in September we are expected to see that payout raised. The US dollar has not continued its early 2015 rally, so year over year comparisons are starting to improve. Today, I'll take a look at the current situation of Philip Morris.

In the next couple of weeks, we are expecting to see a dividend raise. As you will see in the chart below, the recent pullback has already pushed the annual yield above 5.00%, substantially above US peers Altria (NYSE:MO) and Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI). Should we get a raise to $1.05 per quarter, for example, investors would yield approximately 5.26% over the next twelve months.

With Philip Morris operating globally, the strong rise in the dollar has hurt results and caused the suspension of the buyback for 2015. In the first half of the year, currency movements hurt EPS by $0.64 a share and reduced free cash flow by $1.55 billion. The good news for investors is that the dollar currency index ("DCI") has not continued its early 2015 rise. The chart below shows the DCI over the past twelve months.

(Source: CNBC.com)

The DCI continues to mostly trade in the mid $90s, and we're approaching the year ago period from 2014 where the major rally started. If the DCI stays where it is, the quarterly impact on EPS will be lower in the next few periods, with Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 seeing the biggest benefit. The dollar could actually become a tailwind for EPS at some point if it starts to decline, but we are not there yet.

At this point, the valuation of Philip Morris seems rather fair as well. The stock trades for about 14.5 times expected 2015 adjusted EPS, compared to about 19 times for Altria and 21 times for Reynolds. If we include the currency impact for PM, the stock goes for about 18 times this year's expected EPS. While Altria and Reynolds provide more growth at the moment, Philip Morris provides more income potential. If the dollar ever weakens substantially, Philip Morris would see a huge benefit to EPS, and would most likely become the growth leader of the three.

As Philip Morris shares have fallen under $80, things are starting to look attractive again. The annual dividend yield has a 5 handle again, and this is before this year's expected raise. With the dollar currency index moving mostly sideways in the mid $90s, Philip Morris' earnings per share won't be hit as much in the next couple of quarters if the status quo stays the same. I've continued to state that Philip Morris is worth a look under $80, and we are there now.

Additional disclosure: Investors are always reminded that before making any investment, you should do your own proper due diligence on any name directly or indirectly mentioned in this article. Investors should also consider seeking advice from a broker or financial adviser before making any investment decisions. Any material in this article should be considered general information, and not relied on as a formal investment recommendation.


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