The firm said it lowered its rating on the holding company, whose subsidiaries include cigarette maker Philip Morris USA Inc. (PM), as it believes the company "has the most to lose" as demand for e-cigarettes will continue to grow over the next decade.
Wells Fargo kept its $41-$43 price target on the stock.
Must Read: Warren Buffett's 10 Favorite Growth Stocks
Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates ALTRIA GROUP INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate ALTRIA GROUP INC (MO) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."
Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:
- Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 3.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.9%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
- Net operating cash flow has increased to $2,125.00 million or 18.51% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, ALTRIA GROUP INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -31.85%.
- ALTRIA GROUP INC's earnings per share declined by 14.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, ALTRIA GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.26 versus $2.06 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.57 versus $2.26).
- The gross profit margin for ALTRIA GROUP INC is rather high; currently it is at 57.41%. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, MO's net profit margin of 29.31% compares favorably to the industry average.
- Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. The stock's price rise over the last year has driven it to a level which is somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
- You can view the full analysis from the report here: MO Ratings Report