By Will Feuer
Shares of cigarette giant Altria Group Inc. fell more than 7% in morning trading after The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to order Juul Labs Inc. to take its e-cigarettes off the U.S. market.
In 2018, Altria spent nearly $13 billion taking a 35% stake in Juul. The company has taken non-cash charges on the investment as regulatory scrutiny of Juul and the effects of its e-cigarettes on kids escalated. As of March 31, Altria said the estimated fair value of its investment in Juul was $1.6 billion.
The Journal reported Wednesday that the FDA could issue a marketing denial order that follows a nearly two-year review of data presented by Juul, which sought authorization for its tobacco and menthol-flavored products to stay in the U.S. market. The order could be announced as soon as Wednesday, the Journal said.
Shares of Altria fell 7.5% to $42.28 a share in morning trading. The stock is down 11% so far this year, outperforming the S&P 500’s 21% drop over that same period.