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Home » Recent CSD Articles » Categories » Today's News » Wells Fargo Anticipates Cigarette Price Increase Wells Fargo Anticipates Cigarette Price Increase Could the next cigarette price increase appear this September? Convenience store retailers should expect the next cigarette price increase to arrive sooner than the normal November cycle, according to a report by Wells Fargo Securities LLC. Wells Fargo conducted a survey of its tobacco retailer and wholesaler contacts representing approximately 60,000 U.S. convenience stores to gauge expectations for the next round of cigarette pricing increases. Bonnie Herzog, managing director – equity research, beverage, household & personal care, tobacco & c-stores for Wells Fargo noted, “According to our contacts, the next cigarette list price increase is expected to be led by PM USA during the week of Sept 18 at $0.08/pack (+2-3%). We agree as we don’t expect manufacturers to wait till the normal November cycle to take a price increase, especially given the severity of volume declines in Q2,” which were related to the outsized impact of California’s $2-per pack increase in excise tax. “As has been the case in past tax cycles, we expect the industry to further mitigate California tax-driven volume declines with list price increases, partially offset by stronger promo efforts. Longer term, we see further downside to combustible cigarette volumes if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration succeeds with its new nicotine mandate.
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Moody’s Investors Service projects 80 percent of the securities won’t make scheduled payments based on historical declines of 3 percent to 4 percent in U.S. smoking. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposal in July to cut the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels cut tobacco bond returns 0.4 percentage point in the third-quarter, a potential buying opportunity, Barton said. Tobacco companies are expected to vigorously oppose the proposal. “Near-term, we don’t see a ban of nicotine in cigarettes," Barton said. There’s also value in certain zero-coupon tobacco bonds trading at discounts of more than 50 percent to accreted value that may be refinanced, said Ben Barber, who manages Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s $5.2 billion high-yield muni fund. The fund returned 8.2 percent through the third quarter and had 8.8 percent of assets in tobacco debt at the end of August. Nuveen stumbled on its investment in FirstEnergy Solutions, the power-generation unit of FirstEnergy Corp. The Akron-based owner of coal-fired and nuclear plants aims to exit the generation business and restructure FES’s debt. Nuveen owns about $300 million of secured and unsecured FirstEnergy Solutions bonds with a market value of $193 million.