Sector Focus 

Big Tobacco – more sinned against than sinning

Big Tobacco – more sinned against than sinning

Given the prevailing narrative, shareholders could be forgiven for thinking that tobacco companies (like their principal clientele) are facing an existential crisis – albeit a rather drawn-out one. Every year the two major UK-listed tobacco companies, British American Tobacco (BATS) and Imperial Brands (IMB), sell fewer cigarettes than the year before – death by a thousand butts. The latest half-year figures bear this out. Imperial Brands reported that cigarette volumes had fallen by 5.7 per cent, compared with an industry-wide decline of 4.3 per cent. Similarly, BATS sold 5.6 per cent fewer cigarettes over the comparable figure in 2016. It makes you wonder how these cheroot vendors will be able to maintain their status as ‘sin stocks’ when sinners are patently a dying breed.

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