On February 25, 2019, Pomerantz LLP was appointed Co-Lead Counsel in a class action lawsuit filed against Philip Morris International Inc.
The class action, filed in United States District Court, Southern District of New York, is on behalf of a class consisting of all persons other than Defendants who purchased or otherwise acquired Philip Morris common stock between February 8, 2018, and April 18, 2018 (the “Class Period”), seeking to pursue remedies under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “1934 Act”).
Philip Morris is one of the largest and most recognizable cigarette and tobacco manufacturing companies in the world. The Company’s subsidiaries and affiliates and their licensees are engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes and other nicotine-containing products in markets outside of the United States.
The Complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants made false and misleading statements and/or failed to disclose adverse information regarding the Company's business and prospects, including that Philip Morris was experiencing a faster decline in overall cigarette and e-cigarette (or "heated tobacco") sales volumes during the first quarter of 2018 than investors had been led to believe, that its much-lauded sales initiatives had stalled, and that it was experiencing adverse sales headwinds in key markets. As a result of these misrepresentations, Philip Morris stock traded at artificially inflated prices during the Class Period, reaching a high of $109 per share.
On February 22, 2018 – one day after making rosy statements about the Company’s ongoing sales trends and expected results to investors – the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, André Calantzopoulos (“Calantzopoulos”), sold 49,000 shares of Philip Morris stock at $103.66 per share for over $5 million in gross insider trading proceedings. This sale was unusual in both timing and amount, representing a greater than 22% increase over the next greatest number of shares sold by Calantzopoulos in a single day in at least the preceding five years.
Then, on April 19, 2018, Philip Morris issued a press release announcing disappointing results for the Company’s first quarter of 2018. Against its easiest prior-year comparison, the Company reported that a combined cigarette and heated tobacco unit shipment volume had declined by 2.3% during the quarter. The Company also stated that key sales initiatives had stalled, as the Company’s heated tobacco unit growth had plateaued due to market demographics and faltering consumer conversion tactics and, further, that cigarette shipments had fallen by 5.3% during the quarter, signaling persistent adverse trends in the business.
On this news, the price of Philip Morris stock declined $15.80 per share or more than 15%, to close at $85.64 per share on April 19, 2018. This represented the worst daily decline for the Company in nearly a decade and a closing price of more than 17% below the price at which Calantzopoulos had sold his Philip Morris stock less than two months before.