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.