Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) announced a quarterly dividend on Thursday, March 1st, RTT News reports. Stockholders of record on Thursday, March 15th will be paid a dividend of 0.70 per share on Tuesday, April 10th. This represents a $2.80 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.42%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, March 14th. This is a positive change from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.66.
Altria Group has increased its dividend payment by an average of 8.3% per year over the last three years and has raised its dividend annually for the last 9 consecutive years. Altria Group has a payout ratio of 80.5% meaning its dividend is currently covered by earnings, but may not be in the future if the company’s earnings decline. Research analysts expect Altria Group to earn $4.41 per share next year, which means the company should continue to be able to cover its $2.64 annual dividend with an expected future payout ratio of 59.9%.
MO stock traded up $0.69 on Wednesday, hitting $63.35. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 6,956,689 shares, compared to its average volume of 8,216,263. Altria Group has a 1 year low of $59.07 and a 1 year high of $77.79. The company has a market cap of $114,996.16, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.74, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.76 and a beta of 0.62. 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 announced that its board has approved a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, February 1st that allows the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are generally an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.
Several analysts recently commented on MO shares. Jefferies Group reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $84.00 price target on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Thursday, March 15th. Vetr upgraded shares of Altria Group from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $71.45 price target for the company in a research report on Friday, January 26th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $78.00 price target for the company in a research report on Tuesday, February 6th. Piper Jaffray upped their price objective on shares of Altria Group from $76.00 to $81.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, February 2nd. Finally, Berenberg Bank upgraded shares of Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and upped their price objective for the stock from $60.01 to $71.00 in a research report on Tuesday, December 19th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating, ten have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $74.99.
In other news, SVP James E. Dillard III sold 6,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, February 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.13, for a total transaction of $410,345.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, CEO Craig A. Johnson sold 14,953 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, February 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $66.59, for a total transaction of $995,720.27. Following the transaction, 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. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 28,117 shares of company stock valued at $1,821,707. 0.11% of the stock is owned by insiders.
Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of MO. Pinebridge Investments L.P. grew its stake in Altria Group by 504.0% in the 2nd quarter. Pinebridge Investments L.P. now owns 204,996 shares of the company’s stock valued at $15,266,000 after acquiring an additional 171,054 shares during the last quarter. Beaumont Financial Partners LLC acquired a new stake in Altria Group in the 2nd quarter valued at about $264,000. Trustmark National Bank Trust Department grew its stake in Altria Group by 4.3% in the 2nd quarter. Trustmark National Bank Trust Department now owns 24,184 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,801,000 after acquiring an additional 1,004 shares during the last quarter. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. grew its stake in Altria Group by 10.8% in the 2nd quarter. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. now owns 6,242,688 shares of the company’s stock valued at $464,893,000 after acquiring an additional 609,757 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Lazard Asset Management LLC grew its stake in Altria Group by 2,867.9% in the 2nd quarter. Lazard Asset Management LLC now owns 617,568 shares of the company’s stock valued at $45,989,000 after acquiring an additional 596,760 shares during the last quarter. 62.57% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.
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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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