Altria Group (NYSE:MO) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report released on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Altria have underperformed the Zacks categorized industry in the last six months, mainly due to the declining demand of tobacco. The ongoing anti-tobacco campaigns and price rise to offset the rising taxes have been hurting the demand for tobacco. Moreover, consumers are opting for e-cigarettes or substitutes for cigarettes, in turn affecting the cigarette volume. These factors have hurt the company’s sales for the past few quarters, including the first quarter of 2017. Though Altria gains from strong cigarette pricing and its shift to low-risk, smokeless tobacco is encouraging, but the company continues to feel the pinch of declining cigarette volumes. Estimates have been stable ahead of the company’s second-quarter 2017 earnings release.”

Several other analysts also recently weighed in on the company. Cowen and Company reiterated a “hold” rating and issued a $74.00 price objective on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Tuesday. BidaskClub downgraded Altria Group from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Vetr downgraded Altria Group from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $80.38 price objective for the company. in a research report on Monday, June 19th. Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated a “sell” rating and issued a $62.00 price objective on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Friday, May 26th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies assumed coverage on Altria Group in a research report on Wednesday, May 24th. They issued an “overweight” rating and a $76.00 price objective for the company. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $72.56.

Altria Group (NYSE MO) traded down 0.47% on Tuesday, hitting $73.34. 2,230,358 shares of the stock were exchanged. The firm has a market cap of $142.21 billion, a PE ratio of 9.92 and a beta of 0.64. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $74.43 and a 200-day moving average price of $72.19. Altria Group has a 52-week low of $60.82 and a 52-week high of $77.79.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, May 2nd. The company reported $0.73 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.74 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $4.59 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $4.63 billion. Altria Group had a return on equity of 76.43% and a net margin of 55.99%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 1.3% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.72 EPS. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that Altria Group will post $3.28 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, July 10th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, June 15th were paid a $0.61 dividend. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.31%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, June 13th. Altria Group’s payout ratio is 33.02%.

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In related news, Director George Munoz sold 5,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 23rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $72.35, for a total transaction of $361,750.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Dinyar S. Devitre sold 4,285 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, May 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.72, for a total value of $303,035.20. Following the transaction, the director now owns 112,457 shares in the company, valued at $7,952,959.04. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.15% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of MO. Cim Investment Mangement Inc. boosted its position in shares of Altria Group by 1.1% in the fourth quarter. Cim Investment Mangement Inc. now owns 19,191 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,298,000 after buying an additional 217 shares during the period. Smith Shellnut Wilson LLC ADV acquired a new position in Altria Group during the fourth quarter worth $874,000. Pacad Investment Ltd. acquired a new position in Altria Group during the fourth quarter worth $1,944,000. Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management LLC acquired a new position in Altria Group during the fourth quarter worth $470,000. Finally, Gideon Capital Advisors Inc. acquired a new position in Altria Group during the fourth quarter worth $486,000. 62.01% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Altria Group Company Profile

Altria Group, Inc is a holding company. The Company’s segments include smokeable products, smokeless products and wine. 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 cigars and pipe tobacco, and UST LLC (UST), which, through its subsidiaries, including U.S.

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Analyst Recommendations for Altria Group (NYSE:MO)

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