Edward Jones upgraded shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report released on Wednesday morning.

Several other research firms have also issued reports on MO. BidaskClub raised Altria Group from a strong sell rating to a sell rating in a research note on Monday, July 31st. Vetr raised Altria Group from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating and set a $69.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Wednesday, September 20th. Jefferies Group LLC set a $67.00 price objective on Altria Group and gave the company a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, August 24th. Piper Jaffray Companies reissued a buy rating and set a $76.00 price objective on shares of Altria Group in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada raised Altria Group from an underperform rating to a sector perform rating and set a $62.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Monday, July 31st. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating, eight have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. The company currently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average price target of $72.06.

Shares of Altria Group (MO) opened at $63.91 on Wednesday. Altria Group has a 1-year low of $60.01 and a 1-year high of $77.79. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.14, a current ratio of 0.77 and a quick ratio of 0.48. The firm has a market cap of $121.95 billion, a PE ratio of 20.22, a P/E/G ratio of 2.61 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 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.87 by $0.03. Altria Group had a return on equity of 49.43% and a net margin of 60.37%. The firm had revenue of $5.10 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.22 billion. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.82 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.8% on a year-over-year basis. analysts forecast that Altria Group will post 3.28 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, October 10th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 15th were given a dividend of $0.66 per share. This is an increase from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.61. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, September 14th. This represents a $2.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.13%. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 33.00%.

Altria Group declared that its board has approved a stock 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 buy up to 0.7% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are typically an indication that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, Director Dinyar S. Devitre sold 32,000 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.22, for a total value of $1,959,040.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, CEO Martin J. Barrington sold 15,300 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.03, for a total value of $994,959.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 701,074 shares in the company, valued at approximately $45,590,842.22. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.11% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Wrapmanager Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 5.3% in the third quarter. Wrapmanager Inc. now owns 32,251 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,045,000 after buying an additional 1,618 shares during the period. HL Financial Services LLC increased its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 10.0% in the third quarter. HL Financial Services LLC now owns 241,097 shares of the company’s stock worth $15,290,000 after buying an additional 21,982 shares during the period. Chase Investment Counsel Corp purchased a new position in shares of Altria Group in the third quarter worth about $234,000. FDx Advisors Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 6.0% in the third quarter. FDx Advisors Inc. now owns 303,833 shares of the company’s stock worth $19,269,000 after buying an additional 17,246 shares during the period. Finally, Global X MANAGEMENT CO LLC increased its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 2.3% in the third quarter. Global X MANAGEMENT CO LLC now owns 125,909 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,985,000 after buying an additional 2,800 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 61.92% of the company’s stock.

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Altria Group (NYSE:MO)

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