Altria Group (MO) Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Thursday, November 2nd.

According to Zacks, “Altria has surpassed the industry in the past month, thanks to its progress in the smokeless products category. Growth in market share for smokeless products also benefited the company’s third-quarter 2017 earnings, which rose year over year and topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Further, the company expects the smokeless product category, including e-vapor products to continue performing well. Moreover, Altria remains on track with its cost-reduction initiatives and consolidation of its manufacturing facilities to streamline operations.  However, declining demand of tobacco products and stringent government regulations to curb tobacco consumption has been hurting Altria’s top line. Evidently, sales have lagged the consensus mark in seven out of the last nine quarters. Altria’s Wine category has also remained dismal for sometime now, owing to heightened competition.”

MO has been the topic of several other reports. Vetr downgraded shares of Altria Group from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating and set a $69.00 target price on the stock. in a research report on Wednesday, September 6th. Piper Jaffray Companies restated a buy rating and issued a $76.00 price target on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Friday, October 27th. BidaskClub upgraded shares of Altria Group from a strong sell rating to a sell rating in a research report on Monday, July 31st. Royal Bank Of Canada upgraded shares of Altria Group from an underperform rating to a sector perform rating and set a $62.00 price target on the stock in a research report on Monday, July 31st. Finally, Cowen and Company restated a hold rating on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Sunday, September 10th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $72.04.

Altria Group (NYSE MO) traded down $0.45 on Thursday, hitting $65.28. 3,822,704 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 6,798,719. Altria Group has a one year low of $60.01 and a one year high of $77.79. The company has a current ratio of 0.77, a quick ratio of 0.48 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.14. The firm has a market cap of $125,430.00, a P/E ratio of 20.83, a P/E/G ratio of 2.69 and a beta of 0.60.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The company reported $0.90 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.87 by $0.03. Altria Group had a net margin of 60.37% and a return on equity of 49.43%. The company had revenue of $5.10 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.22 billion. During the same period last year, the company posted $0.82 EPS. The firm’s quarterly revenue was down 1.8% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts predict that Altria Group will post 3.28 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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Altria Group declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a share buyback program on Thursday, July 27th that authorizes the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the company to purchase up to 0.7% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are often a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, Director Dinyar S. Devitre sold 32,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.22, for a total value of $1,959,040.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. 0.11% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its holdings in Altria Group by 2.0% during the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 136,023,361 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,129,659,000 after purchasing an additional 2,690,270 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in shares of Altria Group by 7.6% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 127,525,988 shares of the company’s stock valued at $9,496,859,000 after buying an additional 8,969,677 shares during the period. State Street Corp increased its position in shares of Altria Group by 0.9% during the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 74,624,722 shares of the company’s stock valued at $5,329,771,000 after buying an additional 687,246 shares during the period. Capital World Investors increased its position in shares of Altria Group by 27.6% during the second quarter. Capital World Investors now owns 41,157,755 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,065,018,000 after buying an additional 8,914,575 shares during the period. Finally, Bank of New York Mellon Corp increased its position in shares of Altria Group by 7.6% during the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 21,970,538 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,393,372,000 after buying an additional 1,561,120 shares during the period. 62.29% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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