Altria Group Inc (MO) Sees Large Growth in Short Interest

Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) was the recipient of a significant growth in short interest in the month of July. As of July 31st, there was short interest totalling 26,252,711 shares, a growth of 26.4% from the July 13th total of 20,766,999 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 8,096,794 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is currently 3.2 days. Currently, 1.4% of the shares of the company are short sold.

MO opened at $60.83 on Friday. The company has a current ratio of 0.65, a quick ratio of 0.31 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.83. The company has a market capitalization of $111.32 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.99, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.72 and a beta of 0.65. Altria Group has a 12-month low of $53.91 and a 12-month high of $74.38.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 26th. The company reported $1.01 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.00 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $4.88 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.02 billion. Altria Group had a net margin of 42.00% and a return on equity of 48.88%. The firm’s revenue was down 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.85 earnings per share. equities research analysts predict that Altria Group will post 4 earnings per share for the current year.

Altria Group declared that its board has initiated a share repurchase program on Thursday, May 17th that allows the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to buy up to 1% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are typically an indication that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

A number of analysts have recently commented on the stock. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Altria Group from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Wednesday. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Monday, May 14th. Consumer Edge assumed coverage on shares of Altria Group in a report on Monday, June 11th. They issued an “equal weight” rating and a $69.31 price objective on the stock. Jefferies Financial Group set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Altria Group and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, June 1st. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus dropped their price objective on shares of Altria Group from $78.00 to $65.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a report on Friday, July 27th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating, ten have given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Altria Group currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $71.61.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of MO. LVW Advisors LLC lifted its holdings in Altria Group by 5.4% during the second quarter. LVW Advisors LLC now owns 59,179 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,361,000 after purchasing an additional 3,008 shares in the last quarter. Financial Sense Advisors Inc. lifted its holdings in Altria Group by 1,507.5% during the second quarter. Financial Sense Advisors Inc. now owns 56,262 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,195,000 after purchasing an additional 52,762 shares in the last quarter. Point72 Asia Hong Kong Ltd purchased a new position in Altria Group during the first quarter valued at approximately $147,000. Home Federal Bank of Tennessee purchased a new position in Altria Group during the second quarter valued at approximately $550,000. Finally, Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. lifted its holdings in Altria Group by 4.2% during the second quarter. Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. now owns 68,730 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,903,000 after purchasing an additional 2,772 shares in the last quarter. 62.92% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Altria Group

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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