Altria Group Inc. Stock Buy Recommendation Reiterated (MO)

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Altria Group (NYSE: MO) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of B+. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • ALTRIA GROUP INC has improved earnings per share by 34.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, ALTRIA GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.06 versus $1.64 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.39 versus $2.06).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has greatly exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Tobacco industry average. The net income increased by 31.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $836.00 million to $1,103.00 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 7.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.6%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Tobacco industry and the overall market, ALTRIA GROUP INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

Altria Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, smokeless products, and wine in the United States and internationally. Altria Group has a market cap of $69.7 billion and is part of the consumer goods sector and tobacco industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.00, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 18.00. Shares are up 11.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

You can view the full Altria Group Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

--Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings Staff.

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