Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report report published on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Altria has surpassed the industry in the past three months, 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 subject of several other reports. Vetr upgraded Altria Group from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $69.29 price target for the company in a research note on Thursday, December 28th. Royal Bank of Canada restated a hold rating and issued a $62.00 price target on shares of Altria Group in a research note on Tuesday, October 3rd. Wells Fargo & Co boosted their price target on Altria Group from $80.00 to $85.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research note on Thursday, January 4th. Berenberg Bank restated a hold rating on shares of Altria Group in a research note on Tuesday, October 31st. Finally, UBS Group reduced their price target on Altria Group from $72.00 to $68.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research note on Friday, October 27th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $72.87.

Altria Group (NYSE MO) traded down $0.09 during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $70.31. The company had a trading volume of 6,054,500 shares, compared to its average volume of 6,113,740. 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 $132,870.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.79, a PEG ratio of 2.65 and a beta of 0.62. Altria Group has a 1-year low of $60.01 and a 1-year high of $77.79.

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

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, January 10th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, December 21st will be given a dividend of $0.66 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, December 20th. This represents a $2.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.75%. Altria Group’s payout ratio is 33.00%.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in MO. Fiduciary Trust Co. raised its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 20.6% during the 1st quarter. Fiduciary Trust Co. now owns 102,316 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,307,000 after buying an additional 17,471 shares in the last quarter. Westwood Holdings Group Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 10.3% during the 1st quarter. Westwood Holdings Group Inc. now owns 155,121 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,079,000 after buying an additional 14,444 shares in the last quarter. Barings LLC raised its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 59.1% during the 1st quarter. Barings LLC now owns 82,839 shares of the company’s stock worth $5,916,000 after buying an additional 30,769 shares in the last quarter. B.S. Pension Fund Trustee Ltd acting for the British Steel Pension Fund raised its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 84.6% during the 1st quarter. B.S. Pension Fund Trustee Ltd acting for the British Steel Pension Fund now owns 56,101 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,007,000 after buying an additional 25,718 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Cypress Wealth Advisors LLC raised its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 0.5% during the 1st quarter. Cypress Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 37,713 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,693,000 after buying an additional 193 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 62.64% of the company’s stock.

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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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