Altria Raises Guidance

A reorganization of the company's Dominican Republic business should boost EPS by 15 cents.
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Altria Group

(MO) - Get Report

increased its 2006 earnings forecast to reflect a reorganization of its business in the Dominican Republic.

The tobacco giant now sees full-year earnings of $5.63 to $5.68 a share, up from an earlier view of $5.48 to $5.53. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call predict earnings of $5.31 a share.

The company expects to get the 15-cent boost from reorganizing its holdings in the Dominican Republic. Altria said Thursday that it will exchange Philip Morris' 47.5% stake in E. Leon Jimenes, including a 40% stake in its beer subsidiary, for 100% ownership of ELJ's cigarette subsidiary. Altria, which will no longer hold an interest in ELJ's beer business after the deal, also will pay $427 million in cash.

Separately, Altria said at a conference Thursday that it expects to finalize the timing of its planned spinoff of

Kraft Foods

(KFT)

by Jan. 31.

Shares of Altria,

a Dow Jones Industrial Average

component, recently were up $1.51, or 1.8%, to $83.76.