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Altria to Enter E-Cig Market?

Analysts at Trefis are suggestiong that Altria, the #1 manufacturer of tobacco cigarettes, should enter the electronic cigarette market. They claim that the triple threat of declining sales, increased import taxes and potential new regulation will make it difficult to maintain their market position without entering into the growing and lucrative e-cigarette market.

The analysts cite the fact that Altria has already claimed the top spot in the smokeless tobacco market with Skoal and Copenhagen, and that they’re now marketing Verve, a nicotine lozenge, as evidence that the company is looking to expand its reach. And with a report from a Wells Fargo analyst that Altria is looking at potentially acquiring NJoy, which has a 40% share of the American market, the possibility seems to be growing that Altria may indeed spread its wings into the electronic cigarette world. Competitors Lorillard and Reynolds have already taken steps toward joining the e-cigarette fray, with Lorillard acquiring Blu, and Reynolds developing their own in-house e-cig development.

It will be particularly interesting to watch how this plays out, since Altria announced earlier this year that it has entered a partnership with another company to develop non-combustible nicotine products – it could be that they’re covering their bases either way.

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