Sterling Capital Management LLC increased its stake in Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) by 2.7% in the fourth quarter, according to the company in its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The fund owned 31,228 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 812 shares during the quarter. Sterling Capital Management LLC’s holdings in Altria Group were worth $2,230,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.
Other institutional investors and hedge funds also recently modified their holdings of the company. Balentine LLC lifted its position in Altria Group by 32.4% in the second quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 1,460 shares of the company’s stock worth $109,000 after buying an additional 357 shares during the last quarter. Taylor Hoffman Wealth Management bought a new stake in Altria Group in the fourth quarter worth $120,000. Oak Point Wealth Management bought a new stake in Altria Group in the fourth quarter worth $120,000. Quantum Capital Management LLC NJ bought a new stake in Altria Group in the third quarter worth $114,000. Finally, Northwest Investment Counselors LLC lifted its position in Altria Group by 557.0% in the third quarter. Northwest Investment Counselors LLC now owns 1,820 shares of the company’s stock worth $115,000 after buying an additional 1,543 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 62.54% of the company’s stock.
In other Altria Group news, CEO Craig A. Johnson sold 14,953 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction dated Thursday, February 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $66.59, for a total value of $995,720.27. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 64,809 shares in the company, valued at $4,315,631.31. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, SVP James E. Dillard III sold 6,500 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.13, for a total value of $410,345.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 28,117 shares of company stock worth $1,821,707. Insiders own 0.11% of the company’s stock.
Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 1st. The company reported $0.91 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.11. The firm had revenue of $4.71 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $4.80 billion. Altria Group had a return on equity of 50.01% and a net margin of 39.97%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down .4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.68 earnings per share. sell-side analysts predict that Altria Group Inc will post 4.01 earnings per share for the current year.
Altria Group declared that its board has initiated a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, February 1st that authorizes the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.
The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, April 10th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, March 15th were paid a dividend of $0.70 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, March 14th. This represents a $2.80 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.36%. This is a positive change from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.66. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 82.84%.
A number of analysts have weighed in on MO shares. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 target price on the stock in a research note on Monday, April 9th. Deutsche Bank started coverage on Altria Group in a research note on Monday, March 26th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $72.00 target price on the stock. Jefferies Group reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $84.00 target price on shares of Altria Group in a research note on Thursday, March 15th. Argus reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $79.00 target price (up previously from $66.13) on shares of Altria Group in a research note on Wednesday, March 14th. Finally, Vetr upgraded Altria Group from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating and set a $76.87 target price on the stock in a research note on Monday, February 12th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating, eleven have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $74.53.
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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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