Philip Morris tobacco breaks 50% in U.S.

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Philip Morris Cos., in announcing its second quarter earnings today, said its share of the U.S. tobacco category for the first time has cracked the 50% mark.

Citing ACNielsen Corp. figures, PM said 51.1% of cigarettes sold in the second quarter ended June 30 were PM brands, a jump of 1.5 share points from the year-ago period. Still citing Nielsen figures, PM said Marlboro, the driver of its share growth, attained a 35.2% share for the quarter, up 1.8 points. According to PM's internal reporting, Marlboro was up 9.7% in shipments, giving it a 34.6% share in the quarter, while its other full-priced brands--Benson & Hedges, Merit, Parliament and Virginia Slims--were down 0.3 points.

The share jump, which PM attributed to "the timing of promotional activity and increased buying by wholesalers," follows a cut in measured advertising spending in the first quarter as reported by PaineWebber analyst Manny Goldman. He said in a report this week that PM's tobacco spending dropped by 21% to $48.2 million in the first quarter and Marlboro spending specifically fell 17% to $28.7 million during that time.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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