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Shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) were the recipient of a large increase in short interest during the month of May. As of May 15th, there was short interest totalling 18,701,343 shares, an increase of 22.2% from the April 30th total of 15,300,641 shares, Analyst Ratings News reports. Approximately 0.9% of the company’s shares are short sold. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 7,001,970 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 2.7 days.

Several analysts have recently commented on the stock. Analysts at Stifel Nicolaus raised their price target on shares of Altria Group from $40.00 to $43.00 in a research note on Monday, June 2nd. They now have a “buy” rating on the stock. Separately, analysts at Wells Fargo & Co. downgraded shares of Altria Group from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a research note on Monday, May 19th. They now have a $41.00 price target on the stock, down previously from $43.00. Finally, analysts at Nomura raised their price target on shares of Altria Group from $40.00 to $41.00 in a research note on Wednesday, April 30th. They now have a “neutral” rating on the stock. Five research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $41.13.

Shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) opened at 41.39 on Monday. Altria Group has a one year low of $33.12 and a one year high of $41.64. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $40.18 and a 200-day moving average of $37.71. The company has a market cap of $82.201 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 19.12.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 24th. The company reported $0.57 earnings per share for the quarter, meeting the analysts’ consensus estimate of $0.57. The company had revenue of $5.52 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $4.03 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.54 earnings per share. Altria Group’s revenue was up .9% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts expect that Altria Group will post $2.57 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which is scheduled for Thursday, July 10th. Stockholders of record on Monday, June 16th will be given a dividend of $0.48 per share. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.64%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, June 12th.

Altria Group, Inc, is a holding company. At December 31, 2012, Altria Group, Inc’s direct and indirect wholly-owned subsidiaries included Philip Morris USA Inc (NYSE:MO), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes and certain smokeless products in the United States; John Middleton Co (Middleton), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of machine-made cigars and pipe tobacco, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of PM USA; and UST LLC (UST), which through its direct and indirect wholly-owned subsidiaries, including U.

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