Mad Money

How to Play Altria Split

Cramer’s been waiting a long time for Altria to split into two companies. Lord knows he’s spent plenty of show time talking about it. Well, the day has come. On Friday, Altria and Philip Morris International will take their places in separate markets. Of course, people want to know where to put their money. But that depends on what kind of investors they are: value or growth?

Altria , the domestic cigarette business with a 29% stake in SABMiller, offers a 5.2% yield, and Cramer said he thinks that could climb as high as 6.5% by 2009. Clearly, with consistency like this, MO is an attractive play for value investors. Cost cutting should be the strategy here, boosting margins, and a sale of SABMiller would give MO plenty of cash to put to work. Or maybe they’ll keep it and take aim at Anhueuser-Busch’s dominance? Altria, much lighter now, has plenty of options.

With cigarettes getting a much better reception overseas, and Philip Morris International yet to penetrate some huge markets, growth is the story for this newly public company (it will trade under symbol PM). China, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam inhale 2.3 trillion packs worth of cigarettes, so there’s a very real chance that sales volumes could grow exponentially. Earnings should follow. The expected 10%-12% is conservative, Cramer said, as PMI moves into these untapped markets.

Cramer reports, you decide. Since both these companies have roughly similar valuations, which will it be? Altria’s value or PMI’s growth?

What happened to Kraft Foods, Altria’s other spin-off? Will lawsuits be brought against Phillip Morris International in the name of other countries? Watch Cramer’s answers to viewers’ questions.

Jim's charitable trust owns Altria.

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