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Philip Morris International

Philip Morris International (NYSE: PMI) is the No. 1 tobacco company outside the United States, with operations in 32 countries. Led by Chairman and CEO Louis C. Camilleri, it is headquartered in New York City, with an operations center in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was spun off from Altria Group in March 2008.

Company Description

The Philip Morris tobacco company opened its first non-U.S. operation in Australia in 1954. By the following year, the company had established an entire division dedicated to foreign sales. In 1972, Philip Morris' Marlboro became the world's leading cigarette brand; in 1973, the company's international sales first surpassed its domestic sales, moving 124 billion units to the United States' 123 billion.

Not even the Iron Curtain could withstand the power of Philip Morris cigarettes. In 1977, the company signed a deal with the Soviet government to produce its tobacco brands within the U.S.S.R., giving the staunchly Communist nation and its Eastern Bloc satellites new and appealingly packaged ways to increase their risk of lung cancer. Increased awareness of the dangers of smoking slowly began to sap the company's U.S. sales, but foreign countries remained either uninterested or unfazed; by 1989, Philip Morris International's operating income had topped $1 billion for the first time. It opened its first plants in the former Soviet republics in 1992, and moved on to Asia beginning in 1995, both by establishing its own plants and buying local cigarette brands.

For all of 2007, Philip Morris International sold 850 billion units worldwide, bringing in $8.9 billion in operating income, and capturing an estimated 15.6% of the global cigarette market. In March 2008, parent Altria spun off Philip Morris International into its own company, to better cash in on global smoking trends without interference from the slowly dwindling U.S. market. Until the phrase "Surgeon General's Warning" can be properly translated beyond the English language, Philip Morris International shareholders can probably breathe easy; its customers may not be able to say the same.

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