Altria Group (NYSE:MO) has received a consensus recommendation of “Hold” from the sixteen brokerages that are presently covering the company, MarketBeat.com reports. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have assigned a hold rating, six have assigned a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. The average 12-month price objective among brokers that have updated their coverage on the stock in the last year is $71.54.

A number of brokerages have weighed in on MO. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $76.00 price target on shares of Altria Group and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, July 27th. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Altria Group from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, June 28th. Vetr upgraded shares of Altria Group from a “sell” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $80.18 price objective on the stock in a report on Monday, June 5th. Stifel Nicolaus cut their price objective on shares of Altria Group from $77.00 to $72.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, July 31st. Finally, Cowen and Company set a $78.00 price objective on shares of Altria Group and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research report on Friday, July 28th.

In other news, Director Dinyar S. Devitre sold 32,000 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, September 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.22, for a total value of $1,959,040.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, CEO Martin J. Barrington sold 15,300 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on 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 directly owns 701,074 shares in the company, valued at $45,590,842.22. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.11% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in MO. Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its position in Altria Group by 21,647.0% in the 2nd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 19,831,702 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,476,867,000 after purchasing an additional 19,740,509 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. boosted its stake in Altria Group by 7.6% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 127,525,988 shares of the company’s stock worth $9,496,859,000 after purchasing an additional 8,969,677 shares in the last quarter. Capital World Investors boosted its stake in Altria Group by 27.6% in the second quarter. Capital World Investors now owns 41,157,755 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,065,018,000 after purchasing an additional 8,914,575 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its stake in Altria Group by 2.0% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 136,023,361 shares of the company’s stock worth $10,129,659,000 after purchasing an additional 2,690,270 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Swiss National Bank grew its holdings in shares of Altria Group by 25.1% during the first quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 7,486,394 shares of the company’s stock worth $534,678,000 after purchasing an additional 1,501,400 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 61.85% of the company’s stock.

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Shares of Altria Group (NYSE:MO) traded up 0.67% during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $63.32. The company had a trading volume of 4,099,534 shares. The company has a market capitalization of $122.08 billion, a PE ratio of 8.35 and a beta of 0.64. Altria Group has a 52-week low of $60.01 and a 52-week high of $77.79. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $63.39 and its 200-day moving average price is $70.17.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The company reported $0.85 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.86 by ($0.01). Altria Group had a return on equity of 59.50% and a net margin of 56.98%. The company had revenue of $4.37 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.02 billion. During the same period last year, the firm posted $0.81 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 3.2% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts forecast that Altria Group will post $3.26 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, October 10th. Stockholders of record on Friday, September 15th will be paid a $0.66 dividend. This is a positive change from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.61. This represents a $2.64 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.20%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 14th. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio is currently 34.83%.

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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