Altria Group Inc (MO) Short Interest Down 8.9% in October

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Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) saw a large drop in short interest in the month of October. As of October 15th, there was short interest totalling 26,849,287 shares, a drop of 8.9% from the September 28th total of 29,467,455 shares. Approximately 1.4% of the company’s shares are short sold. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 8,091,095 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 3.3 days.

NYSE MO opened at $65.87 on Wednesday. The company has a current ratio of 0.60, a quick ratio of 0.36 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.77. The stock has a market cap of $118.55 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 19.49, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.79 and a beta of 0.61. Altria Group has a one year low of $53.91 and a one year high of $74.38.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.08 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.07 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $5.29 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.22 billion. Altria Group had a net margin of 42.13% and a return on equity of 48.31%. On average, equities research analysts expect that Altria Group will post 4 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, October 10th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 14th were given a dividend of $0.80 per share. This is an increase from Altria Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.70. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, September 13th. This represents a $3.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.86%. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 94.67%.

MO has been the topic of several recent analyst reports. Argus raised their price target on shares of Altria Group from $70.00 to $71.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $75.00 price target on shares of Altria Group and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 23rd. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $70.00 price target on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, September 25th. Stifel Nicolaus reduced their price target on shares of Altria Group from $78.00 to $65.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a research note on Friday, July 27th. Finally, Bank of America set a $70.00 price target on shares of Altria Group and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, September 13th. Seven equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, nine have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $69.87.

In related news, Director Dinyar S. Devitre sold 3,165 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $58.44, for a total value of $184,962.60. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Company insiders own 0.11% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of MO. Morgan Stanley grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 49.6% in the 2nd quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 16,461,864 shares of the company’s stock worth $934,869,000 after buying an additional 5,454,989 shares during the last quarter. FMR LLC grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 14.1% in the 2nd quarter. FMR LLC now owns 37,263,858 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,116,214,000 after buying an additional 4,613,088 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 3.4% in the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 138,589,215 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,870,481,000 after buying an additional 4,581,335 shares during the last quarter. Charles Schwab Investment Advisory Inc. purchased a new position in shares of Altria Group in the 2nd quarter worth approximately $178,215,000. Finally, Voya Investment Management LLC grew its position in shares of Altria Group by 354.6% in the 2nd quarter. Voya Investment Management LLC now owns 3,883,621 shares of the company’s stock worth $220,551,000 after buying an additional 3,029,307 shares during the last quarter. 63.23% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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