Altria Group, Inc. (Altria) (NYSE:MO) today announced its 2014 second-quarter and first-half business results. Altria also narrowed its full-year guidance for 2014 reported diluted and adjusted diluted EPS and announced a new $1 billion share repurchase program.
“During the first six months of 2014, Altria grew adjusted diluted EPS by 5.2% behind solid performance by our companies’ leading premium brands and the strength of our diverse business model,” said Marty Barrington, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria. “Our companies are delivering against their strategies and their full-year plans are on track. We thus are tightening our guidance and now expect to deliver full-year adjusted diluted EPS growth in a range of 7% to 9%.”
“We’re also pleased with our progress in innovative products. Nu Mark began its national expansion of MarkTen in June and is achieving strong distribution,” said Mr. Barrington. “Nu Mark also continues to integrate Green Smoke into its business platform, beginning with its supply chain capabilities.”
Conference CallAs previously announced, a conference call with the investment community and news media will be webcast on July 22, 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 May 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 July 18, 2014, Altria’s annualized dividend yield was 4.6%. Altria paid $955 million in dividends in the second quarter and $1.9 billion in the first half of 2014. 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.