The epic rise of Marlboro cigarettes

Cigarette consumption in the US has been on the decline in recent years. But historically, the tobacco business has been one America’s most profitable industries.

And within the tobacco industry, Altria is a behemoth. The company controls 51% of the US tobacco profit pool, and its stock has generated the most incredible returns. Motley Fool’s Morgan Housel notes that a dollar invested in 1968 would be worth over $US6,600 today.

According to a new presentation given by Altria CEO Marty Barrington, the company’s Marlboro brand is the king.

“Marlboro achieved record retail share of 43.8% [in 2014], larger than the next 10 brands combined,” Barrington said the Consumer Analyst Group of New York Conference.

Here’s a chart from Altria’s presentation showing the rise of Marlboro’s market share since 1954 when it was nothing.

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