Piper Jaffray Companies set a $76.00 price target on Altria Group (NYSE:MO) in a research report sent to investors on Thursday. The firm currently has a buy rating on the stock.

A number of other equities analysts have also recently weighed in on the company. Cowen and Company set a $78.00 price target on Altria Group and gave the stock a hold rating in a research note on Friday. BidaskClub lowered Altria Group from a sell rating to a strong sell rating in a research report on Monday, July 24th. Jefferies Group LLC restated a hold rating and set a $70.00 price objective (down from $71.00) on shares of Altria Group in a research report on Monday, July 17th. Zacks Investment Research lowered Altria Group from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Tuesday, July 11th. Finally, Vetr lowered Altria Group from a buy rating to a hold rating and set a $80.38 price objective for the company. in a research report on Monday, June 19th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating, six have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $72.53.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) opened at 66.94 on Thursday. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $74.51 and a 200-day moving average of $73.00. The stock has a market capitalization of $129.06 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.83 and a beta of 0.64. Altria Group has a 12-month low of $60.01 and a 12-month high of $77.79.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The company reported $0.85 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.86 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $4.37 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.02 billion. Altria Group had a return on equity of 59.50% and a net margin of 56.98%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.81 EPS. Equities research analysts forecast that Altria Group will post $3.28 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, July 10th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, June 15th were issued a dividend of $0.61 per share. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, June 13th. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.65%. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio is 32.19%.

Altria Group announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock buyback plan on Thursday, July 27th that permits the company to buyback $1.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to repurchase up to 0.7% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are often an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, Director Dinyar S. Devitre sold 4,285 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction dated Monday, May 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.72, for a total transaction of $303,035.20. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 112,457 shares in the company, valued at approximately $7,952,959.04. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, Director George Munoz sold 5,000 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, May 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $72.35, for a total value of $361,750.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.15% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. raised its stake in shares of Altria Group by 133.3% in the first quarter. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. now owns 1,400 shares of the company’s stock valued at $100,000 after buying an additional 800 shares in the last quarter. Advantage Investment Management LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Altria Group during the fourth quarter valued at about $116,000. Perigon Wealth Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Altria Group by 4.7% in the first quarter. Perigon Wealth Management LLC now owns 1,641 shares of the company’s stock valued at $118,000 after buying an additional 74 shares in the last quarter. Proficio Capital Partners LLC raised its stake in shares of Altria Group by 97.4% in the first quarter. Proficio Capital Partners LLC now owns 1,664 shares of the company’s stock valued at $121,000 after buying an additional 821 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Feltz Wealth PLAN Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Altria Group during the first quarter valued at about $134,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 61.97% 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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