Altria rises on report company buying stake in marijuana producer; other pot stocks climb

CNBC:  

Altria shares rallied Wednesday on a report that the Marlboro cigarette maker is in talks to buy a stake in Canadian marijuana company Aphria.

Details of Altria’s proposed investment are still being hashed out, multiple sources told Toronto-based Globe & Mail. The report also said that Altria hopes to start as a minority stakeholder in the Leamington, Ontario-based pot grower, but could become a majority shareholder over time.

Altria shares are up 0.8 percent in afternoon trading Wednesday, while Aphria’s stock gained 13 percent in Toronto.

A spokesman for Altria said he would not comment on the rumors while Aphria did not immediately responded to CNBC’s request for comment.

Richmond, Virginia-based Altria produces and markets tobacco, cigars and wine. The $119 billion company owns Philip Morris USA, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes and has sizable stake in Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewing company.

The globe’s major alcohol companies have also wasted no time exploring joint ventures with a handful of lucky cannabis producers.

Constellation Brands recently increased its investment in Canopy Growth with a 9.9 percent stake in the company, granting the Corona beer brewer a foothold in an industry it expects to soon be legal in the United States.

“We think that we’re by far the best company in the world — or in the best position in the world of any company — to capitalize on what is absolutely without a doubt going to be a huge market over the next 10 years, hundreds of billions of dollars,” Constellation CEO Robert Sands said in the company’s earnings call Thursday.

Shares of Tilray, a marijuana producer, jumped 5.9 percent.