Podcast: Preparing for a Cigarette-Free Future

Why Johnson and Johnson’s stock is rising in spite of the drugmaker’s opioid case defeat. Two major tobacco players are in merger talks. And the performance gap between bonds and equities grows bigger.

3 numbers to help you navigate the market—in just two minutes.

Three numbers to start your day:

—for its role in Oklahoma’s opioid crisis. A state judge ruled on Monday that the drugmaker’s misleading marketing and promotion of opioids had compromised the health of Oklahomans. The company said it would appeal.

While Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) lost the suit, its stock still rose about 3% on Tuesday. Why? The penalty was much smaller than what many investors had feared. In fact, it’s less than 10 days worth of net income for Johnson & Johnson.

Hoping to prepare for a cigarette-free future, two of the industry’s biggest companies are now discussing a merger.

The two in question are Philip Morris International (PM) and Altria Group (MO). They were once a single company, but split in 2008. Philip Morris manages the Marlboro brand in international markets, while Altria focuses on selling Marlboros in the U.S.

A combined company could market new non-cigarette investments globally, like Philip Morris’s heat-not-burn product, called iQOS. The same goes for products from Altria’s strategic investments. Those include vaping startup Juul Labs and cannabis company Cronos Group (CRON).

—in August. The S&P 500, meanwhile, is down almost 3% this month. That big of a performance gap doesn’t happen often. If Treasuries’ gains and stocks’ losses hold through the end of the week, it would make this August just the 19th month since 1987 that bonds have beaten equities by at least 10 percentage points. That’s according to Bespoke Investment Group.

So what’s going on? Investors pile into bonds when they’re worried about risk. This month shows just how concerned they are about the U.S.-China trade war and its effect on the global economy.

Numbers by Barron’s is our daily podcast. Find out more here.

Write to host Nick Jasinski at

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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