Altria Group Target of Unusually High Options Trading (NYSE:MO)

Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) was the target of unusually large options trading on Wednesday. Traders acquired 109,897 call options on the stock. This is an increase of approximately 1,370% compared to the typical daily volume of 7,474 call options.

In other news, SVP Jody L. Begley sold 3,250 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, May 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.38, for a total transaction of $173,485.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, VP W Hildebrandt Surgner, Jr. sold 2,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, May 22nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $52.48, for a total value of $104,960.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.11% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Vanguard Group Inc grew its stake in shares of Altria Group by 0.8% during the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 141,423,951 shares of the company’s stock valued at $8,529,279,000 after buying an additional 1,107,891 shares during the last quarter. FMR LLC grew its stake in shares of Altria Group by 68.1% during the first quarter. FMR LLC now owns 78,710,352 shares of the company’s stock valued at $4,520,337,000 after buying an additional 31,883,878 shares during the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC grew its stake in shares of Altria Group by 8.3% during the first quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 26,994,000 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,548,191,000 after buying an additional 2,065,560 shares during the last quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund grew its stake in shares of Altria Group by 4,426.0% during the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 23,150,081 shares of the company’s stock valued at $469,000 after buying an additional 22,638,593 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Bank of New York Mellon Corp grew its stake in shares of Altria Group by 1.9% during the fourth quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 22,776,754 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,124,943,000 after buying an additional 420,288 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 64.49% of the company’s stock.

A number of brokerages recently issued reports on MO. ValuEngine cut Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Wednesday, May 29th. Zacks Investment Research raised Altria Group from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, April 8th. TheStreet raised Altria Group from a “c+” rating to a “b-” rating in a report on Friday, March 29th. Citigroup set a $52.00 price objective on Altria Group and gave the stock a “sell” rating in a report on Thursday, March 28th. Finally, Morgan Stanley increased their price objective on Altria Group from $45.00 to $49.00 and gave the stock an “underweight” rating in a report on Monday, April 15th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating and seven have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Altria Group presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $61.91.

Shares of NYSE MO opened at $51.59 on Thursday. The stock has a market capitalization of $97.57 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.93, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 0.44. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.92, a quick ratio of 0.39 and a current ratio of 0.62. Altria Group has a twelve month low of $42.40 and a twelve month high of $66.04.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 25th. The company reported $0.90 EPS for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.92 by ($0.02). The firm had revenue of $4.39 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $4.60 billion. Altria Group had a net margin of 24.87% and a return on equity of 49.42%. Altria Group’s revenue for the quarter was down 6.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.95 earnings per share. Research analysts forecast that Altria Group will post 4.17 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, July 10th. Stockholders of record on Friday, June 14th will be given a dividend of $0.80 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, June 13th. This represents a $3.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 6.20%. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 80.20%.

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About Altria Group

Altria Group, Inc, through its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells cigarettes, smokeless products, and wine in the United States. It offers cigarettes primarily under the Marlboro brand; cigars principally under the Black & Mild brand; and moist smokeless tobacco products under the Copenhagen, Skoal, Red Seal, and Husky brands.

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