Shares of Philip Morris International, the world's largest non-state-owned cigarette maker, rose as much as 5 percent Monday morning in their first day of trading after the company was spun off from Altria Group.
The shares were up $1.94 to $53.00 and traded as high as $53.70. Altria shares were up 23 cents, or 1 percent, at $22.99.
Investors have long anticipated the Philip Morris International spinoff as a way to get a pure play on the growing overseas tobacco business without being tied to a shrinking U.S. cigarette market. The company trails only state-run China National Tobacco in terms of global market share.
Philip Morris International has forecast annual growth in earnings per share of 10 percent to 12 percent. Altria expects its own earnings growth to be 8 percent to 10 percent annually.
Earlier this month, Philip Morris International Chief Operating Officer Andre Calantzopoulos said there were plenty of areas to grow the cigarette business, noting that only one in six smokers around the world smokes a Philip Morris brand.
He said the company has little or no presence in large cigarette markets like China, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh. Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris Growe on Monday initiated coverage of Philip Morris International with a "buy" rating and a stock price target of $58.
"We believe PMI should be valued at least in line with its peer international companies in light of its strong growth opportunities (developing markets), premium portfolio, size and scale advantages, and impressive free cash flow generation," Growe said in a research note.