Altria (MO) Board Initiates Share Buyback Program

Altria (NYSE:MO) announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share repurchase program, which permits the company to buyback $1.00 billion in shares on Thursday, May 17th. This buyback authorization permits the company to buy up to 1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are typically an indication that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

Altria traded up $0.10, hitting $55.39, on Friday, according to MarketBeat.com. 96,267 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 8,581,881. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.85, a current ratio of 0.65 and a quick ratio of 0.34. Altria has a 52 week low of $54.58 and a 52 week high of $55.29. The stock has a market capitalization of $103.85 billion, a PE ratio of 16.37, a PEG ratio of 1.60 and a beta of 0.63.

Altria (NYSE:MO) last released its earnings results on Thursday, April 26th. The company reported $0.95 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.93 by $0.02. The firm had revenue of $4.67 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $4.63 billion. Altria had a return on equity of 49.92% and a net margin of 41.85%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 1.8% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $0.73 earnings per share. sell-side analysts expect that Altria will post 4 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, July 10th. Stockholders of record on Friday, June 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.70 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, June 14th. This represents a $2.80 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 5.06%. Altria’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 82.84%.

Several brokerages recently issued reports on MO. ValuEngine cut Altria from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a research note on Monday. Zacks Investment Research cut Altria from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Monday. Royal Bank of Canada upgraded Altria from a “sector perform” rating to an “outperform” rating in a research note on Monday, April 30th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Morgan Stanley cut their price target on Altria from $70.00 to $65.00 and set an “equal weight” rating for the company in a research note on Friday, April 27th. Finally, Piper Jaffray set a $75.00 price target on Altria and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, April 23rd. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating, ten have assigned a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $73.42.

In other news, CEO Brian W. Quigley sold 3,464 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.40, for a total transaction of $216,153.60. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, VP W Hildebrandt Surgner, Jr. sold 3,200 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.34, for a total transaction of $199,488.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.11% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

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.

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