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No. of Recommendations: 0
Buy MO. The upside is huge and the downside has mostly been priced into the stock.

Also you seem to put an undue amount of importance on debt. Lots of companies carry debt for tax reasons so the debt to cash ratios may look awful, but it doesn't say anything about the underlying business. You should be more concerned with dilultion IMHO.
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Buy MO. The upside is huge and the downside has mostly been priced into the stock.

Hmmm ... not exactly the logic I would use to pick a Rule Maker stock. Instead, let's run it through some of base criteria to see how it fares:

Quarterly Revenue $20.8 billion (OK)
Y/Y Revenue Growth 5.2% (below our 10% criteria)
Gross Margins 42.7% (below our 50% criteria)
Net Margins 10.4% (OK)
Flow Ratio 0.96 (OK)
Cash/Debt Ratio 0.36 (below our 1.5x criteria)
Cash King Margin 12.6% (OK)

Looking at the more qualitative criteria, I think it would be easy to give them points for Dominant Brand, Convenience, and Repeat Purchase. However, I would have a hard time giving them much of anything in the Expanding Possibilities and Your Interest categories, simply because of the looming uncertainty with their tobacco-related businesses. That is definitely not a business that "welcomes everyone", and I think many investors would bypass this stock on moral grounds alone (myself included).

All things considered, I have a hard time believing that MO should be given serious consideration as a future Rule Maker holding. I think there are many other companies that score better against our criteria and don't have the tobacco stigma like MO. This doesn't mean it won't be a good investment, because it very well may be. I just don't think it would be a good Rule Maker.

Just my two cents.

the LanceMan
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