Altria Revenue Beats Estimates, Profit Lags During Pandemic

Altria's fourth-quarter sales rose 5% from a year earlier to $6.3 billion, easily topping the FactSet analyst consensus. Profit lagged.
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Tobacco giant Altria's MO fourth-quarter revenue well exceeded Wall Street's expectations, while adjusted profit slightly lagged.

The Richmond, Va., parent of Marlboro and other brands reported net income registered $1.92 billion, or $1.03 a share, in the quarter, swinging from a loss of $1.81 billion, or $1 a share, in the year-earlier quarter. 

The latest adjusted earnings totaled 99 cents a share, trailing the $1.02 analyst consensus.

Sales rose 5% to $6.3 billion from $6.01 billion a year earlieir, easily topping the FactSet analyst consensus of $5.01 billion.

Altria forecast full-year 2021 adjusted earnings per share of $4.49 to $4.62, below analysts’ consensus of $4.63. Altria’s prediction indicates a 3% to 6% increase from 2020.

The company's shares recently traded at $42.02, up 0.5%. They have climbed 19% over the past six months.

Altria "managed through the challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic,” Chief Executive Billy Gifford said in a statement. 

“Our tobacco businesses were resilient and we made steady progress toward our 10-year vision to responsibly transition adult smokers to a noncombustible future.”

Further, “our plans for the year ahead include accelerating investments in support of our 10-year vision, which we expect to fund through the continued financial strength of our tobacco businesses,” he said.

The board sanctioned a new $2 billion share-buyback program, which Altria expects to complete by June 30, 2022.

Before the earnings report, Morningstar analyst Phil Gorham put Altria’s fair value at $54. 

“We believe our medium-term estimate of a 3.5% annual [cigarette shipment] volume decline in a normalized environment remains realistic, and assumes the vaping category does not materially rebound,” he wrote in November.