Altria Group: Smoke Em if you Got Em (NYSE:MO)

Marlboro Man (Altria)

Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) have bounced back 14% since June and the company just upped its quarterly dividend 8.60% to 38 cents/share, the second dividend increase this year.  Looking for a quality stock that provides stability and a dividend -- look to Altria.

Altria Group (MO) shares are now trading with a P/E Ratio of 13.6 and EPS of 1.66 and it has traded between $17.28 and $22.99 over the past 12 months.   Altria has been a great investment in 2010, its just 1.86% off its 52-week high trading at $22.57 today.  Despite Altria shares taking a dive in June, the stock is up 15% YTD while the S&P 500 has lost 5% and the Dow Jones down 3.23%.

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nyse:moAltria announced that the increase reflects the company's intention to return a large amount of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends, and is consistent with the company's dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80% of its adjusted diluted earnings per share. This is the 43rd consecutive dividend increase for the Altria Group. 

Back in May Altria reaffirmed that its fiscal 2010 guidance for reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) is expected to be in the range of $1.78-$1.82. This forecast includes estimated charges of $0.07 per share related to exit, integration and implementation costs, UST acquisition-related costs, and SABMiller plc (SABMiller) special items (don't forget that Altria has a 28% stake in SABMiller).

Altria reaffirmed that its fiscal 2010 guidance for adjusted diluted EPS is expected to be in the range of $1.85 to $1.89. Altria expects the first half of 2010 to be more challenging for income growth comparison purposes than the back half of 2010. Altria anticipates that adjusted diluted earnings per share growth will build in the second half of 2010.

The last analyst action on Altria was back in July:

22-Jul-10 Reiterated Stifel Nicolaus Buy $22 → $23
22-Jul-10 Reiterated Barclays Capital Equal Weight $22 → $24

The chart looks great on Altria, not to mention the dividend and company guidance, this may be a stock worth adding just for security.

SOURCE: http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/keyDevelopments?rpc=66&symbol=MO&timestamp=20100721105900

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