juul with podsJuul saw a decline in sales during the last quarter after removing flavored pods from US retail stores, but that is expected to be nothing more than a minor setback. Juul is forecasting $3.4 billion in annual revenue for 2019. This eye-popping number is almost triple what the company earned last year, according to a report from Bloomberg.

This financial outlook indicates that the company has high confidence in its ability to continue to sell the sleek pod-based e-cigarettes that have become ubiquitous throughout the country. Juul also expects that other countries will avoid the regulatory crackdown that the company has experienced in the US following the teen vaping epidemic.

Just give me the numbers

Juul posted fourth-quarter revenue of $424 million, a 2.4% decline over the previous quarter, a source told Bloomberg. Juul experienced a $70.4 million loss, in sharp contrast to their $17 million in profit in the prior quarter. This is likely a result of their decision to remove flavored pods from US retail stores, as well as because of the intense negative media attention the company has experienced over the past few months.

According to the anonymous source, the number would have been much lower if overseas sales didn’t make up for the shortfall in US sales.

Juul has been pushing back against claims that it is deliberately marketing its products to kids. It took steps last year to regain control over its image, including removing their US-based social media accounts and ending their affiliate program.

Why Altria invested in Juul Labs

These never-before-released financial projections indicate why Altria may have paid such a huge premium for their stake in the controversial e-cig manufacturer. The two co-founders of Juul became instant billionaires when the Marlboro-maker took a 35 percent stake in the company, giving it a $38 billion valuation.

Analysts on Altria’s conference call last month bombarded the company with question about their investment in Juul Labs. Over four-fifths of analyst questions were about the investment in the privately held company.

Altria told the analysts that Juul generated $200 million in 2017, followed by 2018 revenue of $1.8 billion with a $12.4 million profit. They expect 160 percent sales growth in 2019, which contrasts with Altria’s expected growth rate of only 1 percent.

It looks like Juul is expecting to continue to cement its dominance over the e-cigarette market this year. The company faces an uncertain regulatory environment (especially in the United States) as well as motivated competitors who want to unseat them from their position as top dog in the e-cigarette industry. We’ll see how everything shakes out in the coming months.