Altria declared a quarterly dividend of $0.38 per common share, keeping the dividend yield high at 6.1%. The dividend is payable Jan 10 to shareholders of record as of Dec 28.
Citi downgraded Altria to Hold from Buy. S&P still maintains a 5 star ratings outlook on MO.
The FDA announced all cigarette packages in the US would have to contain graphic images of diseased lungs or corpses by 2010.
Altria declared a quarterly dividend of 38 cents per share, an increase of 9% over its prior dividend, giving Altria a dividend yield of 6.7%.
Altria priced $800 million in 5.25 notes through Barclays and Deutsche Bank at a yield of 4.213%
Altria in SEC filings said it has agreed to pay $973 million in taxes to the IRS for years 2000-2003. However, it will file a claim for a tax credit/refund, and sue the government if it does not receive one.
At its annual shareholder meeting, the company reaffirmed full year EPS guidance at $1.78 to $1.82 per share. The Board also declared a dividend of $0.35 per share payable to shareholders on July 9 to shareholders of record on June 15.
Altria announced that effective on Monday, May 10, it would be raising prices on most of its cigarette brands including Marlboro by 8 cents to boost profit amid falling volumes.
Moody's reaffirmed Altria's credit rating at Baa1 and upgraded its outlook from negative to stable.
CEO Michael Szymanczyk earned $9 million in 2009, a 23% decrease as the company's cigarette sales fell. His base pay was $1.3 million, a 7% increase from 2008.
Altria affirmed its 2010 forecast of EPS between $1.85 and $1.89. It expects the first half of 2010 to be more difficult because it won't get the revenue increase it did last fiscal year by raising prices ahead of the 62-cent-per-pack federal excise tax that went into effect April 2009.
Both the US government and Altria appealed a racketeering case against major cigarrete makers that was upheld last year. Altria wants the verdict overturned, while the government argues the appeals court denied the disgorgement of billions of gains by tobacco companies.
A Florida judge said he will reduce a $300 million cigarette injury verdict against Altria, awarded in November to a former smoker.
Altria reported 2009 Q4 earnings rose 6.8% to $725 million, or 35 cents per share, disappointing on expectations of 40 cents per share. Revenue rose 29% to $6.01 billion.
The AP reported that tobacco company lawyers, including those from Altria, met with the US Solicitor General last month to urge her not to file a Supreme Court appeal in the government's racketeering case against the industry. Federal courts barred the government from seeking the return of $280 billion in past profit, but the US Solicitor General could renew the appeal on this issue.
Altria's shares jumped 1.86% to $20.24 after Jim Cramer talked about the company in his Mad Money show, citing a history of raising dividends.
Altria declared a regular quarterly dividend of 34 cents, payable on Jan 11 to shareholders of record as of Dec 30.
Phillip Morris USA, owned by Altria, filed lawsuits against ten retailers selling counterfeit versions of the company?s Marlboro brand cigarettes in New York and New Jersey. High excise taxes and lack of effective tax enforcement in the NY metropolitan area have exacerbated the counterfeiting problem for Philip Morris.
Altria's Philip Morris lost a $300 million jury verdict in a lawsuit brought by a former Florida smoker who suffers from ephysema. The company said it would seek "further review" of the jury verdict.
Q3 2009 earnings for Altria rose to $882 million, up from $867 million a year earlier. Revenue was up 20% due to increases in the federal excise tax and the acquisition of smokeless tobacco company UST. Cigarette volume sales fell 16% as a result of higher pricing and continuing smoking bans in public places.
Altria announced plans to expand sales of its Marlboro snus and Copenhagens, two moves aimed at reinforcing its strengths in the smokeless-tobacco market
Altria raised its quarterly dividend by two cents to 34 cents a share, pushing its yield to 7.5%.
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Altria over $79.5 million in punitive damages awarded to the widow of a longtime Oregon smoker. The court declined to rule on the merits of the case.
A Florida jury ruled that Altria was not liable for the death of a Florida smoker. This was the first win for the defense in the case. The Supreme Court had previously allowed such lawsuits to be brought against Altria individually.
On March 4, Altria announced large price increases for its products driven by the April 1 changes in excise taxes. New cigarette prices will take effect on March 9, all other products will experience price changes on March 29. Management hopes this will return its growth to 5-6%.
A wave of layoffs is expected for the coming month at Altria's Richmond-area operations, announced the company, as part of a reorganization strategy.
A jury ruled in the first of 8000 individual cases to go to trial in Florida that Altria must pay $3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for the death of Stuart Hess in 1997.
Altria raised carton and pack prices in recent days. The federal cigarette tax will rise from 39 cents a pack to almost $1.01 on April 1.
Altria reported a 69% fall in fourth quarter profit, before divesting its overseas unit.
Altria is expected to announce a $1 price discount on tobacco sold in the southeast. Its Skoal and Copenhagen would be about $2.99 a can on average. Grizzly, the discount brand of Conwood, is sold in the Triad for an average retail price of $2.22 a can.
Altria shares rose as investors appeared to be putting money into defensive, 'safe' stocks ahead of a series of corporate earnings reports later in the week.
Altria announced it closed its acquisition of UST Inc., the biggest competitor int he US smokeless tobacco market. The deal was valued at $10.4 billion, with Altria assuming $1.3 billion in debt.
The decision allows Altria to be sued for deceptive advertising of light cigarettes, which in reality are no healthier than regular cigarettes.
Altria said it started to cut an undisclosed number of jobs due to the economic turmoil.
Atria announced in August 2007 it would cut as many as 400 jobs when it moved its headquarters out of New York. In March 2008, the company spun off Philip Morris International. The cuts were designed to save $250 million annually.
On March 28th, 2008 Philip Morris International and Altria split, now trading publically as two separate unaffiliated entities. The drop in share price reflects the change in size of Altrias portfolio of companies.
Higher-than-expected costs of restructuring and exiting recently spun Kraft foods continues to take its toll on Altria's net earnings. Although quarterly earnings rose compared to last year's, after deduction of one-time costs, net profit drops 18%.
Altria continues restructuring, announcing plans to close a North Carolina plant by 2010 and replace it with facilities in Europe. As weakening US growth pushes Altria to focus overseas, excitement grows about the "liberation" of Altria's exported cigarettes from the restrictions of US production.