Traders Purchase Large Volume of Altria Group Call Options (NYSE:MO)

Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) saw some unusual options trading activity on Wednesday. Stock investors acquired 109,897 call options on the company. This is an increase of 1,370% compared to the typical volume of 7,474 call options.

A number of equities research analysts have weighed in on MO shares. Bank of America upped their price target on shares of Altria Group from $56.00 to $66.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, March 20th. ValuEngine raised shares of Altria Group from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, March 21st. Citigroup set a $52.00 price objective on shares of Altria Group and gave the company a “sell” rating in a research note on Thursday, March 28th. TheStreet raised shares of Altria Group from a “c+” rating to a “b-” rating in a research note on Friday, March 29th. Finally, Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Altria Group from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, April 8th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $61.91.

In other Altria Group news, SVP Jody L. Begley sold 3,250 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, May 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $53.38, for a total value of $173,485.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, VP W Hildebrandt Surgner, Jr. sold 2,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, May 22nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $52.48, for a total transaction of $104,960.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.11% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Country Trust Bank increased its holdings in Altria Group by 86.9% in the first quarter. Country Trust Bank now owns 514 shares of the company’s stock worth $30,000 after buying an additional 239 shares during the last quarter. Litman Gregory Asset Management LLC acquired a new position in Altria Group in the fourth quarter worth approximately $30,000. Premia Global Advisors LLC acquired a new position in Altria Group in the first quarter worth approximately $34,000. Balentine LLC increased its holdings in Altria Group by 67.4% in the first quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 663 shares of the company’s stock worth $38,000 after buying an additional 267 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Penserra Capital Management LLC acquired a new position in Altria Group in the first quarter worth approximately $36,000. 64.49% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

MO stock opened at $51.21 on Friday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.39, a current ratio of 0.62 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.92. Altria Group has a one year low of $42.40 and a one year high of $66.04. The stock has a market cap of $97.57 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.83, a PEG ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 0.44.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 25th. The company reported $0.90 EPS for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.92 by ($0.02). Altria Group had a net margin of 24.87% and a return on equity of 49.42%. The firm had revenue of $4.39 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $4.60 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $0.95 earnings per share. Altria Group’s quarterly revenue was down 6.0% compared to the same quarter last year. Sell-side analysts predict that Altria Group will post 4.17 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, July 10th. Shareholders of record on Friday, June 14th will be paid a dividend of $0.80 per share. This represents a $3.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 6.25%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, June 13th. Altria Group’s dividend payout ratio is presently 80.20%.

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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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