Citigroup Inc. Trims Altria Group (MO) Target Price to $75.00

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) had its target price reduced by Citigroup Inc. from $80.00 to $75.00 in a report released on Monday. Citigroup Inc. currently has a buy rating on the stock.

Other equities research analysts have also issued research reports about the stock. BidaskClub raised shares of Altria Group from a strong sell rating to a sell rating in a report on Monday, July 31st. Vetr raised shares of Altria Group from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating and set a $69.00 target price on the stock in a report on Wednesday, September 20th. Jefferies Group LLC set a $67.00 target price on shares of Altria Group and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Thursday, August 24th. Piper Jaffray Companies reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $76.00 target price on shares of Altria Group in a report on Friday, October 27th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada raised shares of Altria Group from an underperform rating to a sector perform rating and set a $62.00 target price on the stock in a report on Monday, July 31st. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and ten have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Altria Group currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $72.06.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The company reported $0.90 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.87 by $0.03. The firm had revenue of $5.10 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.22 billion. Altria Group had a net margin of 60.37% and a return on equity of 49.43%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.8% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $0.82 EPS.

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Altria Group declared that its board has initiated a share repurchase plan on Thursday, July 27th that allows the company to buyback $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to repurchase up to 0.7% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are generally an indication that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, October 10th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 15th were given a dividend of $0.66 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, September 14th. This is an increase from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.61. This represents a $2.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.11%. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio is presently 33.04%.

In other Altria Group news, CEO Martin J. Barrington sold 15,300 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.03, for a total transaction of $994,959.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 701,074 shares in the company, valued at approximately $45,590,842.22. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, Director Dinyar S. Devitre sold 32,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.22, for a total transaction of $1,959,040.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.11% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in MO. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. raised its position in shares of Altria Group by 133.3% in the 1st quarter. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. now owns 1,400 shares of the company’s stock valued at $100,000 after acquiring an additional 800 shares during the period. Solaris Asset Management LLC raised its position in shares of Altria Group by 65.7% in the 2nd quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,405 shares of the company’s stock valued at $105,000 after acquiring an additional 557 shares during the period. CKW Financial Group acquired a new stake in shares of Altria Group in the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $109,000. Balentine LLC raised its position in shares of Altria Group by 32.4% in the 2nd quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 1,460 shares of the company’s stock valued at $109,000 after acquiring an additional 357 shares during the period. Finally, Northwest Investment Counselors LLC raised its position in shares of Altria Group by 557.0% in the 3rd quarter. Northwest Investment Counselors LLC now owns 1,820 shares of the company’s stock valued at $115,000 after acquiring an additional 1,543 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 61.92% 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.

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