The company's operating units -- tobacco manufacturers Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International; beer maker Miller Brewing; and food company Kraft Foods -- will retain their names.
The name change will serve to clarify the difference between the corporate parent and its tobacco divisions, which currently share the same name.
The new moniker -- derived from the Latin root "altus," which means grown great, lofty or high -- also signifies the company's continued evolution, evidenced by recent changes such as the Nabisco acquisition and the Kraft initial public offering, said Chairman-CEO Geoffrey Bible in a statement.
Philip Morris Cos., which embarked on a corporate image campaign two years ago, registered for the domain name, www.altria.com, in March 2000.
Shareholders will vote on the proposed name change at the annual meeting in April.