Just how bad is it for big tobacco? And a business idea for an ambitious investment banker

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Big tobacco stocks have had a bad month. Philip Morris had its worst day (for stock performance) in a decade. Electronic cigarettes and vapes etc are taking market share – and they are interrupting the big (old) brands of combustibles.  There has been plenty of press – here is an example from Fortune.

I just want to throw up a single data point. Swedish Match (a tobacco company with no cigarette brands) owns the world’s biggest match and lighter business. If you live in Latin America, Asia-Pacific or Europe you have almost certainly used the products. Here are the main brands:

Main brands:
Matches: Solstickan, Swan Vestas, Tres Estrellas, Fiat Lux, Redheads
Lighters: Cricket

Redheads and Cricket are totally dominant in Australia.

Here, from the last quarter, are the results for the “lights” business – just the volumes.




Yes, you are seeing 11 percent volume decline for matches, 23 percent decline for lighters.

If you are a big tobacco investor your only reaction has to be oh f–k.



Now if you are an investment banker here is a deal from heaven. This match and lighter business has distribution almost every place in the world outside North America where you want to sell cigarettes.

It is thus a perfect distribution entree to a new e-cig business – and this e-cig transition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break the big tobacco brands.

The business is only a partial fit for Swedish Match (who mostly sells Snus in Scandinavia and chewing tobacco and machine rolled cigars in North America).

There has to be a deal to be done, a billion dollars to be made.






John