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Altria Group, Inc. (Altria) (NYSE:MO) today announced its 2014 first-quarter business results, revised its 2014 full-year guidance for reported diluted EPS and reaffirmed its 2014 full-year guidance for adjusted diluted EPS.
“During the first quarter, Altria grew adjusted diluted EPS by 5.6% behind the strength of our core tobacco businesses and their leading premium brands,” said Marty Barrington, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria. “Our smokeable and smokeless products segments grew their adjusted operating companies income and expanded margins.”
“We also continued to make disciplined investments to grow new income streams with innovative products,” said Mr. Barrington. “In e-vapor, Nu Mark will begin its national launch of
MarkTen in June. Nu Mark also closed the Green Smoke acquisition earlier this month.”
As previously announced, a conference call with the investment community and news media will be webcast on April 24, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Access to the webcast is available at altria.com.
Cash Returns to Shareholders - Dividends and Share Repurchase Program
In February 2014, Altria’s Board of Directors (Board) declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.48 per common share. The current annualized dividend rate is $1.92 per common share. As of April 17, 2014, Altria’s annualized dividend yield was 5.0%. Altria expects to continue to return a large amount of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends by maintaining a dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80% of its adjusted diluted EPS. Future dividend payments remain subject to the discretion of the Board.
During the first quarter of 2014, Altria repurchased approximately 7.5 million shares of its common stock at an average price of $35.98 for a total cost of approximately $272 million. Altria has approximately $185 million remaining in the current $1 billion program, which it expects to complete 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 the Board.