In fact, Philip Morris is less and less a cigar manufacturer. Volumes of fuel sold fell by 0.4% in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the same period last year, while those sold in smokeless alternatives - mainly IQOS smoking tobacco and ZYN pouches - rose by 20.9% and 35.8% respectively.

These "new generation" products now account for 38% of sales, up 21% on the same period last year. Philip Morris is well on the way to achieving the goal it set itself five years ago: to generate half of its sales from fuel alternatives by 2025.

In other words, it has beaten the odds and beaten the competition to the punch - especially British American Tobacco, which is making slower progress with its Vuse and Velo brands. A strong signal of the evolution of demand in the nicotine market: this quarter, for the first time, Philip Morris sold more IQOS refills than fuel in Tokyo.

IQOS has long been the world leader in heating tobacco. As for ZYN, up 80% in the North American market compared with the first quarter of last year, it is undoubtedly the fastest-growing fast-casual brand in the world.

I think it's likely that the group will propose splitting its activities in two as soon as its new-generation products segment achieves sales equivalent to those of its fuel segment.

The historical business, which is highly profitable but in structural decline, and which owns the Marlboro franchise outside the USA, will be spun off. Shareholders will retain ownership of a transformed, "ESG-compatible", fast-growing company positioned in the most lucrative fast-moving consumer segment.

Philip Morris is notoriously heavy-handed when it comes to presenting investors with results "adjusted" for everything. In consolidated terms and in US dollars, however, its sales have been growing at a good pace for the past five years: $6.7 billion in the first quarter of 2019, compared with $8.8 billion in the first quarter of 2024.

Earnings per share, on the other hand, have barely changed over the past four years - a reflection, of course, of the expenditure required to develop new brands. It is understood, however, that investors value the group on a "sum-of-the-parts" basis, with the fast-growing new-generation product segment on one side, and the structurally declining but still highly profitable fuel segment on the other.

The former should approach $15 billion in revenues by the end of 2024, for an "adjusted" profit of at least $3 billion. Place a growing business multiple on this segment and you'll quickly cover at least two-thirds of Philip Morris's market capitalization.