Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) announced its 2015 fourth-quarter and full-year business results and provided guidance for 2016 full-year adjusted diluted EPS.
“In 2015, Altria delivered yet another year of excellent business results and outstanding shareholder returns,” said Marty Barrington, Altria’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. “We grew full-year adjusted diluted EPS by 8.9%, in line with our long-term EPS growth objective.Altria paid nearly $4.2 billion in dividends to shareholders, consistent with our goal of paying out approximately 80% of adjusted diluted EPS. And Altria’s total return to shareholders of 23.1% far outpaced the S&P 500 and the S&P Food, Beverage and Tobacco Index, marking the third consecutive year that total shareholder return has exceeded 20%.”
“Our core businesses generated impressive and consistent income growth during the year behind the strength of their premium brands. Marlborogrew retail share for the fourth consecutive year. And in smokeless products, our leading premium brand, Copenhagen, was the fastest growing brand in the category, supporting USSTC’s strategy of combined Copenhagen and Skoal retail share growth.”
“In addition, we supported the agreement between AB InBev and SABMiller to create the first truly global beer company. When completed, we expect to capture a significant premium on our very large investment in SABMiller and continue our participation in the global beer profit pool on attractive terms.” (Original Source)
Shares of Altria are down nearly 2% to $57.75 in pre-market trading. MO has a 1-year high of $61.74 and a 1-year low of $47.31. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $57.96 and its 200-day moving average is $55.74.
On the ratings front, Altria has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on November 2, Nomura analyst Owen Bennett reiterated a Buy rating on MO, with a price target of $65, which represents a potential upside of 10.2% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on October 30, Cowen’s Vivien Azer downgraded the stock to Hold and has a price target of $62.
According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Owen Bennett and Vivien Azer have a total average return of 5.3% and 12.9% respectively. Bennett has a success rate of 60.0% and is ranked #1460 out of 3596 analysts, while Azer has a success rate of 81.5% and is ranked #357.