Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) – Research analysts at Jefferies Group lifted their FY2018 earnings per share (EPS) estimates for Altria Group in a research report issued on Monday. Jefferies Group analyst O. Bennett now forecasts that the company will earn $4.02 per share for the year, up from their previous forecast of $3.95. Jefferies Group currently has a “Buy” rating and a $70.00 target price on the stock. Jefferies Group also issued estimates for Altria Group’s FY2019 earnings at $4.37 EPS, FY2020 earnings at $4.84 EPS and FY2021 earnings at $5.24 EPS.
Other analysts also recently issued reports about the company. Berenberg Bank upgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their price target for the company from $60.01 to $71.00 in a report on Tuesday, December 19th. Vetr downgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $67.97 price target for the company. in a report on Monday, December 11th. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Tuesday, January 2nd. Wells Fargo & Co increased their price target on Altria Group from $80.00 to $85.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a report on Thursday, January 4th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies increased their price target on Altria Group from $76.00 to $81.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, February 2nd. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating, eight have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $73.66.
Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, February 1st. The company reported $0.91 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.11. The business had revenue of $4.71 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $4.80 billion. Altria Group had a return on equity of 50.01% and a net margin of 39.97%. The business’s quarterly revenue was down .4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the company posted $0.68 EPS.
Altria Group declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback program on Thursday, February 1st that allows the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are usually a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.
The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, April 10th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, March 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.70 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, March 14th. This is an increase from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.66. This represents a $2.80 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.25%. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 49.62%.
In related news, CEO Craig A. Johnson sold 14,953 shares of Altria Group 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 completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 64,809 shares in the company, valued at $4,315,631.31. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, VP W Hildebrandt Surgner, Jr. sold 3,200 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction dated Friday, March 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.34, for a total value of $199,488.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 28,117 shares of company stock valued at $1,821,707 over the last 90 days. Insiders own 0.11% of the company’s stock.
Large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. NewSquare Capital LLC lifted its holdings in Altria Group by 4,734.7% in the third quarter. NewSquare Capital LLC now owns 108,780 shares of the company’s stock worth $109,000 after acquiring an additional 106,530 shares during the last quarter. Balentine LLC lifted its holdings in Altria Group by 32.4% in the second quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 1,460 shares of the company’s stock worth $109,000 after acquiring an additional 357 shares during the last quarter. Quantum Capital Management LLC NJ bought a new position in Altria Group in the third quarter worth about $114,000. Northwest Investment Counselors LLC lifted its holdings in Altria Group by 557.0% in the third quarter. Northwest Investment Counselors LLC now owns 1,820 shares of the company’s stock worth $115,000 after acquiring an additional 1,543 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Oak Point Wealth Management bought a new position in Altria Group in the fourth quarter worth about $120,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 62.77% of the company’s stock.
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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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