Altria (MO) Cut to Neutral at Citigroup

Citigroup lowered shares of Altria (NYSE:MO) from a buy rating to a neutral rating in a research report released on Wednesday, Marketbeat.com reports. Citigroup currently has $75.00 price target on the stock.

Several other brokerages also recently commented on MO. Berenberg Bank upgraded Altria from a hold rating to a buy rating and increased their target price for the company from $60.01 to $71.00 in a research note on Tuesday, December 19th. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Altria from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 2nd. Vetr upgraded Altria from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $69.29 target price on the stock in a research note on Thursday, December 28th. Wells Fargo increased their target price on Altria from $80.00 to $85.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research note on Thursday, January 4th. Finally, Piper Jaffray increased their target price on Altria from $76.00 to $81.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research note on Friday, February 2nd. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating, nine have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the stock. Altria presently has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $74.21.

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MO stock opened at $57.23 on Wednesday. Altria has a twelve month low of $56.08 and a twelve month high of $77.79. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.85, a current ratio of 0.64 and a quick ratio of 0.31. The company has a market cap of $109,807.94, a P/E ratio of 16.93, a P/E/G ratio of 1.68 and a beta of 0.62.

Altria (NYSE:MO) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, February 1st. The company reported $0.91 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.11. Altria had a return on equity of 50.01% and a net margin of 39.97%. The company had revenue of $4.71 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $4.80 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.68 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down .4% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts forecast that Altria will post 4.01 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, April 10th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, March 15th were paid a $0.70 dividend. This is an increase from Altria’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.66. This represents a $2.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 4.89%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, March 14th. Altria’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 82.84%.

Altria declared that its board has initiated a share buyback program on Thursday, February 1st that permits the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are often an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, VP W Hildebrandt Surgner, Jr. sold 3,200 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.34, for a total value of $199,488.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, CEO Brian W. Quigley sold 3,464 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.40, for a total value of $216,153.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 28,117 shares of company stock worth $1,821,707. Company insiders own 0.11% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in MO. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its position in Altria 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 in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. lifted its position in Altria by 0.8% during the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 135,404,376 shares of the company’s stock valued at $9,669,229,000 after purchasing an additional 1,140,353 shares in the last quarter. Capital World Investors lifted its position in Altria 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 purchasing an additional 8,914,575 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp lifted its position in Altria 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 purchasing an additional 1,561,120 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Geode Capital Management LLC lifted its position in Altria by 3.0% during the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 21,709,187 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,547,228,000 after purchasing an additional 629,732 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 62.54% of the company’s stock.

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Altria Company Profile

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Altria (NYSE:MO)

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