Wellington Shields & Co. LLC decreased its position in Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) by 2.0% in the fourth quarter, according to its most recent Form 13F filing with the SEC. The firm owned 39,472 shares of the company’s stock after selling 789 shares during the period. Altria Group accounts for about 1.5% of Wellington Shields & Co. LLC’s investment portfolio, making the stock its 16th biggest position. Wellington Shields & Co. LLC’s holdings in Altria Group were worth $2,819,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.
Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also recently made changes to their positions in the stock. First Manhattan Co. lifted its holdings in Altria Group by 22.8% during the fourth quarter. First Manhattan Co. now owns 1,125,517 shares of the company’s stock worth $80,373,000 after buying an additional 208,935 shares during the period. Naples Global Advisors LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 6.1% during the 4th quarter. Naples Global Advisors LLC now owns 23,255 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,661,000 after purchasing an additional 1,342 shares during the last quarter. Stifel Financial Corp lifted its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 1.9% during the 2nd quarter. Stifel Financial Corp now owns 845,526 shares of the company’s stock valued at $62,906,000 after purchasing an additional 15,715 shares during the last quarter. BB&T Securities LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 3.0% during the 3rd quarter. BB&T Securities LLC now owns 499,388 shares of the company’s stock valued at $31,671,000 after purchasing an additional 14,458 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Hutner Capital Management Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 2.7% during the 3rd quarter. Hutner Capital Management Inc. now owns 90,712 shares of the company’s stock valued at $5,753,000 after purchasing an additional 2,400 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 62.77% of the company’s stock.
Several analysts have recently commented on MO shares. Jefferies Group set a $72.00 price objective on Altria Group and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, November 17th. Vetr lowered Altria Group from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $71.65 price objective for the company. in a report on Monday, November 13th. 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 report on Tuesday, February 6th. Piper Jaffray Companies increased their price objective on Altria Group from $76.00 to $81.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Finally, Berenberg Bank upgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their price objective for the company from $60.01 to $71.00 in a report on Tuesday, December 19th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating, eight have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $73.66.
Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last released its earnings results on Thursday, February 1st. The company reported $0.91 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.11. Altria Group had a return on equity of 50.01% and a net margin of 39.97%. The firm had revenue of $4.71 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $4.80 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.68 EPS. The firm’s revenue was down .4% on a year-over-year basis. research analysts predict that Altria Group Inc will post 4 earnings per share for the current year.
The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, April 10th. Investors of record on Thursday, March 15th will be given a $0.70 dividend. This represents a $2.80 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.25%. This is an increase from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.66. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, March 14th. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio is presently 74.16%.
Altria Group announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase program on Thursday, February 1st that authorizes the company to buyback $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are often a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.
In other Altria Group news, CEO Brian W. Quigley sold 3,464 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, March 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.40, for a total transaction of $216,153.60. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, CEO Craig A. Johnson sold 14,953 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, February 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $66.59, for a total value of $995,720.27. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 64,809 shares in the company, valued at $4,315,631.31. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders sold 28,117 shares of company stock worth $1,821,707. 0.11% of the stock is owned by insiders.
About Altria Group
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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