BidaskClub downgraded shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) from a sell rating to a strong sell rating in a research note released on Friday morning.

MO has been the topic of a number of other reports. Cowen and Company set a $78.00 target price on Altria Group and gave the company a hold rating in a research report on Friday, July 28th. Berenberg Bank set a $72.00 target price on Altria Group and gave the company a hold rating in a research report on Sunday, August 6th. Vetr upgraded Altria Group from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating and set a $80.18 target price on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, May 16th. UBS AG dropped their target price on Altria Group from $78.00 to $72.00 and set a neutral rating on the stock in a research report on Monday, July 31st. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus dropped their target price on Altria Group from $77.00 to $72.00 and set a buy rating on the stock in a research report on Monday, July 31st. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating, seven have assigned a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $72.47.

Shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) opened at 63.93 on Friday. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $68.44 and a 200 day moving average price of $72.24. The stock has a market cap of $123.26 billion, a PE ratio of 8.43 and a beta of 0.61. Altria Group has a 12-month low of $60.01 and a 12-month high of $77.79.

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

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

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 paid a $0.66 dividend. This represents a $2.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.13%. This is a positive change from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.61. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 14th. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 32.19%.

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

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. raised its position in Altria Group by 133.3% in the first quarter. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. now owns 1,400 shares of the company’s stock worth $100,000 after buying an additional 800 shares during the period. Solaris Asset Management LLC raised its position in Altria Group by 65.7% in the second quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,405 shares of the company’s stock worth $105,000 after buying an additional 557 shares during the period. CKW Financial Group acquired a new position in Altria Group during the second quarter worth $109,000. Balentine LLC raised its position in Altria Group by 32.4% in the second quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 1,460 shares of the company’s stock worth $109,000 after buying an additional 357 shares during the period. Finally, Perigon Wealth Management LLC raised its position in Altria Group by 4.7% in the first quarter. Perigon Wealth Management LLC now owns 1,641 shares of the company’s stock worth $118,000 after buying an additional 74 shares during the period. 61.89% 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.

Analyst Recommendations for Altria Group (NYSE:MO)

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