Recent sales figures for companies that produce electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) have been encouraging in the last few quarters. But this budding industry has taken some time to filter into mainstream investment strategies. For those looking to gain some long-term exposure to the sector, it makes sense to look for companies that offer attractive dividend yields and are supported by solid underlying fundamentals, as there are some excellent opportunities for those looking to gain exposure to an up-and-coming industry. There are many stock choices (both small-cap and large-cap) that can be used to capitalize on the new trends in the consumer space, and here we will look at some of the best choices.
Domestic E-Cigarette Sales
Domestic sales in the last few quarters have provided one of the best indications of the latest market trends. Sam Hadi at CloudCig said :
More and more consumers are making the transition to healthier tobacco alternatives. Rising domestic usage in electronic cigarette markets generated sales of more than $1 billion in 2013.
Furthermore, the clarity of these figures has prompted some of the larger cigarette manufacturers to move into the electronic space and divert resources from more traditional products in paper tobacco. This supports the prospects for improved earnings in companies that have exposure to the sector, as there is little reason to believe that the average annual performance is likely to abate any time soon. Approximately 2.7% of Americans smokers have already taken part in the e-cig experience, and consumer trends toward health conscious behavior suggest that these numbers are likely to grow in the future.
Consumer trends that start in the US tend to expand elsewhere, and some of the companies that are best positioned to capitalize on rising e-cigarette purchases are those with global exposure. One example can be found in British American Tobacco (NYSEMKT:BTI), which has collected a strong consumer base in both the US and in the UK. The company’s Vype e-cigarette is coming online in retail outlets, and their recent purchase of a 42% stake in Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) (worth $11.5 billion) will give the company greater traction in US markets. BTI’s 2.7% dividend yield makes the stock attractive, given the low interest rate scenarios we are likely to see for the remainder of the year.
Lorillard (NYSE:LO) is another key company to watch, given the fact that is was the first of the major cigarette producers to step into the e-cigarette space. Two years ago, Lorillard acquired Blu eCigs, adding to its global portfolio which also includes the UK’s SKYCIG. These acquisitions have helped Lorillard to gain a market share of 49%, and this increases the likelihood that we will see some strong performances in the stock in coming quarters. Stock performance at Lorillard will also be critical in determining the wider financial trends that are likely to be seen throughout the sector. The stock offers a 4.2% dividend yield, and the company’s $1 billion stock repurchase plan should keep valuations supported going forward.
Last, it is important to not overlook Altria (NYSE:MO), which has a long-established history as the owner of some of the biggest brands in traditional cigarette products. Altria’s decision to enter into the e-cig space have been expressed in the NuMark subsidiary $110 million acquisition of e-vape company GreenSmoke. These moves mark a significant confirmation of the major player trend to abandon traditional cigarettes and enter into healthier alternatives. Clearly, the old guard has retired, and new product lines are the way of the future. This list gives investors some examples of the best ways to gain exposure to the space without sacrificing the vulnerability that typically accompanies small cap stocks.