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Altria Group, Inc. (Altria) (NYSE: MO) today announced that its Board of Directors voted to increase Altria's regular quarterly dividend by 9.1% to $0.48 per common share versus the previous rate of $0.44 per common share. The quarterly dividend is payable on October 10, 2013 to shareholders of record as of September 16, 2013. The ex-dividend date is September 12, 2013.
The new annualized dividend rate is $1.92 per common share, representing a yield of 5.7% based on Altria's closing stock price of $33.56 on August 22, 2013.
Today's dividend increase reflects Altria's intention to return a large amount of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and is consistent with Altria's dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80% of its adjusted diluted earnings per share. Altria has increased its dividend 47 times in the last 44 years.
Additionally, Altria announced that its Board of Directors authorized a $700 million expansion of Altria's current April 2013 share repurchase program from $300 million to $1 billion. Altria expects to complete the program by the end of the third quarter of 2014. The timing of share repurchases depends upon marketplace conditions and other factors. The program remains subject to the discretion of Altria's Board of Directors.
Forward-Looking and Cautionary Statements
This press release contains projections of future results and other forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties and are made pursuant to the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Important factors that may cause actual results and outcomes to differ materially from those contained in the projections and forward-looking statements included in this press release are described in Altria's publicly filed reports, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012 and its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2013. Altria does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements that it may make except as required by applicable law. All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to Altria or any person acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements referenced above.