Philip Morris changes name to Altria Group


Tobacco and food giant Philip Morris has changed its name to Altria Group.

The New York-based company, which proposed the new name in November 2001, said it wanted the parent company's name to better reflect the difference between the parent company and the operating units.The name Altria was coined from "altus" - the Latin word for "high". The company, which owns Marlboro cigarettes, Kraft foods and Maxwell House coffee, has said it chose the name to reflect its "peak" performance.

Altria also holds a 36 per cent stake in SABMiller, the world's second-largest brewer, which owns Miller Brewing.

Anti-tobacco groups voiced some concerns when the name change was first announced, saying Philip Morris was purposefully shying away from its tobacco heritage.

Altria is expected to report fourth-quarter 2002 results on Wednesday; Kraft, which went public in 2001, is expected to report its fourth-quarter results tomorrow.