Verity Asset Management Inc. Acquires Shares of 3,520 Altria Group (MO)

Verity Asset Management Inc. purchased a new stake in Altria Group (NYSE:MO) during the 1st quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The firm purchased 3,520 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $251,000.

Several other large investors have also modified their holdings of the company. Swiss National Bank grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 25.1% in the first quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 7,486,394 shares of the company’s stock valued at $534,678,000 after purchasing an additional 1,501,400 shares during the last quarter. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 7.4% in the first quarter. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. now owns 5,632,931 shares of the company’s stock valued at $402,304,000 after purchasing an additional 387,069 shares during the last quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 9.1% in the first quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC now owns 4,639,646 shares of the company’s stock valued at $331,364,000 after purchasing an additional 388,541 shares during the last quarter. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 23.8% in the first quarter. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board now owns 3,799,398 shares of the company’s stock valued at $271,353,000 after purchasing an additional 730,600 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Acadian Asset Management LLC grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 14.8% in the first quarter. Acadian Asset Management LLC now owns 3,399,616 shares of the company’s stock valued at $242,802,000 after purchasing an additional 438,032 shares during the last quarter. 61.89% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

In other Altria Group news, CEO Martin J. Barrington sold 15,300 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.03, for a total transaction of $994,959.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 701,074 shares in the company, valued at approximately $45,590,842.22. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Corporate insiders own 0.11% of the company’s stock.

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Shares of Altria Group (MO) traded down 0.05% on Friday, reaching $62.25. 7,130,160 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. Altria Group has a 12 month low of $60.01 and a 12 month high of $77.79. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $64.48 and its 200 day moving average price is $71.33. The company has a market cap of $120.02 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.21 and a beta of 0.63.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The company reported $0.85 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.86 by ($0.01). Altria Group had a return on equity of 59.50% and a net margin of 56.98%. The business had revenue of $4.37 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.02 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $0.81 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.2% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts predict that Altria Group will post $3.26 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, October 10th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 15th will be given a dividend of $0.66 per share. This represents a $2.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 4.23%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 14th. This is a positive change from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.61. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio is presently 32.19%.

Altria Group announced that its board has initiated a stock buyback program on Thursday, July 27th that permits the company to buyback $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to reacquire up to 0.7% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are often a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

Several brokerages have recently issued reports on MO. Cowen and Company reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $74.00 price target on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Tuesday, July 11th. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $70.00 price target (down from $71.00) on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Monday, July 17th. BidaskClub downgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 12th. Piper Jaffray Companies initiated coverage on Altria Group in a research report on Wednesday, May 24th. They issued an “overweight” rating and a $76.00 price target on the stock. Finally, Zacks Investment Research downgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Tuesday, May 23rd. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $71.81.

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.

Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Altria Group (NYSE:MO)

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