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Altria Group Inc. (MO): Today's Featured Tobacco Laggard

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

Altria Group (MO) pushed the Tobacco industry lower today making it today's featured Tobacco laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day down 2.3%. By the end of trading, Altria Group fell 46 cents (-1.4%) to $33.52 on average volume. Throughout the day, 11.2 million shares of Altria Group exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 11.3 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $33.37-$34.01 after having opened the day at $33.97 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $33.98. Other companies within the Tobacco industry that declined today were: Star Scientific (STSI), down 8%, Alliance One International (AOI), down 2.7%, and Reynolds American (RAI), down 2.6%.

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Altria Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, smokeless products, and wine in the United States and internationally. Altria Group has a market cap of $69.12 billion and is part of the consumer goods sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.7, below the average tobacco industry P/E ratio of 16.5 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 14.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday. Currently there are six analysts that rate Altria Group a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and seven rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Altria Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, increase in stock price during the past year, compelling growth in net income and impressive record of earnings per share growth. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the tobacco industry could consider PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage (PBJ) while those bearish on the tobacco industry could consider PowerShares DB Agriculture Sht ETN (ADZ).

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