Equities researchers at Jefferies Group initiated coverage on shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday. The firm set a “hold” rating on the stock.

Several other research analysts also recently issued reports on MO. Vetr upgraded Altria Group from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating and set a $72.13 price objective for the company in a research report on Wednesday, May 25th. Credit Agricole SA cut their price objective on Altria Group from $69.00 to $68.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a research report on Thursday, September 15th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $78.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Monday, July 11th. Argus set a $73.00 price objective on Altria Group and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, August 1st. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus restated a “buy” rating and set a $71.00 price objective (up from $65.00) on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Monday, June 27th. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $69.41.

Analyst Recommendations for Altria Group (NYSE:MO)

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) opened at 62.97 on Wednesday. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $65.74 and its 200-day moving average price is $64.93. Altria Group has a 1-year low of $53.68 and a 1-year high of $70.15. The firm has a market capitalization of $123.04 billion, a PE ratio of 21.86 and a beta of 0.48.

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Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.81 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.01. Altria Group had a return on equity of 198.82% and a net margin of 22.05%. The firm earned $6.52 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.01 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.74 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 1.4% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities research analysts predict that Altria Group will post $3.05 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, October 11th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.61 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th. This is a boost from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.57. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.87%. Altria Group’s payout ratio is currently 84.72%.

In related news, SVP James E. Dillard III sold 9,000 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction on Wednesday, August 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $66.68, for a total transaction of $600,120.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, SVP Charles N. Whitaker sold 11,000 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $66.53, for a total transaction of $731,830.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.15% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Chevy Chase Trust Holdings Inc. raised its position in Altria Group by 1.0% in the second quarter. Chevy Chase Trust Holdings Inc. now owns 1,687,561 shares of the company’s stock valued at $116,374,000 after buying an additional 17,417 shares during the last quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. raised its position in Altria Group by 1.9% in the first quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. now owns 676,612 shares of the company’s stock valued at $42,396,000 after buying an additional 12,726 shares during the last quarter. Acadian Asset Management LLC raised its position in Altria Group by 21.9% in the second quarter. Acadian Asset Management LLC now owns 2,517,741 shares of the company’s stock valued at $173,623,000 after buying an additional 452,444 shares during the last quarter. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. raised its position in Altria Group by 0.4% in the first quarter. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. now owns 525,540 shares of the company’s stock valued at $32,963,000 after buying an additional 1,998 shares during the last quarter. Finally, State of Alaska Department of Revenue raised its position in Altria Group by 4.5% in the second quarter. State of Alaska Department of Revenue now owns 268,676 shares of the company’s stock valued at $18,527,000 after buying an additional 11,624 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 61.29% of the company’s stock.

About Altria Group

Altria Group, Inc is a holding company. The Company’s subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc (PM USA), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes in the United States; John Middleton Co (Middleton), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of machine-made large cigars and pipe tobacco, and UST LLC (UST), which through its subsidiaries, including U.S.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:MO

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