Altria Group’s (MO) “Buy” Rating Reaffirmed at Jefferies Group

Jefferies Group reissued their buy rating on shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) in a research report released on Thursday, March 15th. They currently have a $84.00 price target on the stock. Jefferies Group also issued estimates for Altria Group’s FY2018 earnings at $4.02 EPS, FY2019 earnings at $4.37 EPS, FY2020 earnings at $4.84 EPS and FY2021 earnings at $5.24 EPS.

Several other brokerages have also issued reports on MO. Vetr raised shares of Altria Group from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $71.45 price target for the company in a report on Friday, January 26th. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Altria Group from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $78.00 target price for the company in a research note on Tuesday, February 6th. Piper Jaffray upped their target price on shares of Altria Group from $76.00 to $81.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research note on Friday, February 2nd. Berenberg Bank raised shares of Altria Group from a hold rating to a buy rating and boosted their price target for the stock from $60.01 to $71.00 in a research report on Tuesday, December 19th. Finally, Wells Fargo boosted their price target on shares of Altria Group from $80.00 to $85.00 and gave the stock an outperform rating in a research report on Thursday, January 4th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating, ten have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $74.99.

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NYSE:MO opened at $63.85 on Thursday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.85, a current ratio of 0.64 and a quick ratio of 0.31. Altria Group has a 1 year low of $59.07 and a 1 year high of $77.79. The company has a market capitalization of $122,654.98, a PE ratio of 18.89, a PEG ratio of 1.87 and a beta of 0.62.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last posted its quarterly earnings data 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. Altria Group had a net margin of 39.97% and a return on equity of 50.01%. The firm had revenue of $4.71 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $4.80 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.68 EPS. Altria Group’s revenue was down .4% on a year-over-year basis. sell-side analysts anticipate that Altria Group will post 4.01 EPS for the current year.

Altria Group declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback program on Thursday, February 1st that allows the company to buyback $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are often an indication 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. Shareholders of record on Thursday, March 15th will be given a dividend of $0.70 per share. This represents a $2.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 4.39%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, March 14th. This is a positive change from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.66. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio is presently 82.84%.

In related news, SVP James E. Dillard III sold 6,500 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.13, for a total value of $410,345.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, VP W Hildebrandt Surgner, Jr. sold 3,200 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, March 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.34, for a total transaction of $199,488.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 28,117 shares of company stock worth $1,821,707. Company insiders own 0.11% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Balentine LLC raised its stake in shares of Altria Group by 32.4% during the second quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 1,460 shares of the company’s stock valued at $109,000 after acquiring an additional 357 shares during the last quarter. Taylor Hoffman Wealth Management bought a new position in shares of Altria Group during the fourth quarter valued at $120,000. Oak Point Wealth Management bought a new position in shares of Altria Group during the fourth quarter valued at $120,000. Quantum Capital Management LLC NJ bought a new position in shares of Altria Group during the third quarter valued at $114,000. Finally, Northwest Investment Counselors LLC raised its stake in shares of Altria Group by 557.0% during the third quarter. Northwest Investment Counselors LLC now owns 1,820 shares of the company’s stock valued at $115,000 after acquiring an additional 1,543 shares during the last quarter. 62.57% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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.

Analyst Recommendations for Altria Group (NYSE:MO)

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