Altria Group (MO) Rating Increased to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Tuesday. The brokerage presently has a $78.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would indicate a potential upside of 16.78% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Altria has been progressing well with expansion in the smokeless products category, which has helped it surpass the industry in the past six months. Notably, the company’s flagship MarkTen brand is now a leading U.S. e-vapor brand, with a substantial retail market share. These factors fueled Altria’s smokeless product revenue in fourth-quarter 2017, wherein earnings kept its stellar year-over-year growth trend intact. Results were backed by solid pricing, higher OCI and lower tax rates, stemming from recent tax reforms. However, rising health consciousness and stern government regulations to curb tobacco consumption has been hurting cigarette volumes and denting Altria’s top line for quite some time. Moreover, the Wine category remains sluggish due to stiff competition. Nonetheless, investments in key growth areas, efforts to lift Marlboro’s share and expected gains from tax reforms led to a robust earnings view.”

A number of other research firms have also weighed in on MO. Jefferies Group set a $72.00 target price on Altria Group and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, November 17th. Vetr lowered Altria Group from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $71.65 target price on the stock. in a report on Monday, November 13th. Piper Jaffray Companies boosted their target price on Altria Group from $76.00 to $81.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Edward Jones raised Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, November 1st. Finally, Berenberg Bank upgraded Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and boosted their price target for the company from $60.01 to $71.00 in a research note on Tuesday, December 19th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $73.20.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) opened at $66.79 on Tuesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.85, a quick ratio of 0.31 and a current ratio of 0.64. The firm has a market capitalization of $127,450.00, a P/E ratio of 12.58, a P/E/G ratio of 2.04 and a beta of 0.53. Altria Group has a 1-year low of $60.01 and a 1-year high of $77.79.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, February 1st. The company reported $0.91 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.80 by $0.11. The business 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 firm’s revenue was down .4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $0.68 EPS. analysts anticipate that Altria Group will post 4 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

Altria Group announced that its board has initiated a stock buyback plan on Thursday, February 1st that permits the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are often a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Solaris Asset Management LLC lifted its position in shares of Altria Group by 65.7% during 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 bought a new stake in shares of Altria Group during the 2nd quarter valued at $109,000. NewSquare Capital LLC lifted its position in shares of Altria Group by 4,734.7% during the 3rd quarter. NewSquare Capital LLC now owns 108,780 shares of the company’s stock valued at $109,000 after acquiring an additional 106,530 shares during the period. Balentine LLC lifted its position in shares of Altria Group by 32.4% during 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, Quantum Capital Management LLC NJ bought a new stake in shares of Altria Group during the 3rd quarter valued at $114,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 62.75% of the company’s stock.

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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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