Altria Group (NYSE:MO) shares were down 1.7% on Wednesday . The company traded as low as $66.12 and last traded at $66.17, with a volume of 2,708,627 shares trading hands. The stock had previously closed at $67.34.

A number of research analysts recently weighed in on MO shares. Vetr upgraded shares of Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $65.23 price objective for the company in a report on Wednesday, April 13th. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $63.00 price target on shares of Altria Group in a report on Thursday, April 14th. Argus upgraded shares of Altria Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and boosted their price target for the stock from $62.93 to $68.00 in a report on Monday, May 9th. Bank of America Corp. reiterated a “neutral” rating and set a $66.00 price target on shares of Altria Group in a report on Tuesday, May 17th. Finally, Berenberg Bank initiated coverage on shares of Altria Group in a report on Tuesday, June 14th. They set a “buy” rating and a $74.00 price target for the company. Five analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Altria Group presently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $68.98.

The company’s 50 day moving average is $67.97 and its 200-day moving average is $63.64. The firm has a market capitalization of $129.69 billion and a PE ratio of 23.05.

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.81 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.01. The business earned $6.52 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.01 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business posted $0.74 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 1.4% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts forecast that Altria Group will post $3.06 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, July 11th. Investors of record on Wednesday, June 15th were issued a $0.565 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Monday, June 13th. This represents a $2.26 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.41%.

In other news, Director Nabil Y. Sakkab acquired 4,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, May 20th. The shares were bought at an average price of $63.20 per share, for a total transaction of $252,800.00. Following the completion of the purchase, the director now directly owns 31,630 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,999,016. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, CEO Brian W. Quigley sold 3,000 shares of Altria Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, May 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.66, for a total transaction of $190,980.00. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 23,246 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,479,840.36. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Morgan Stanley raised its stake in Altria Group by 6.3% in the fourth quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 21,038,153 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,224,631,000 after buying an additional 1,246,488 shares in the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN raised its stake in Altria Group by 3.5% in the fourth quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 11,184,442 shares of the company’s stock worth $651,046,000 after buying an additional 382,074 shares in the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP raised its stake in Altria Group by 7.2% in the fourth quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 3,722,738 shares of the company’s stock worth $216,717,000 after buying an additional 249,380 shares in the last quarter. Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. Ltd. raised its stake in Altria Group by 0.5% in the fourth quarter. Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. Ltd. now owns 3,023,507 shares of the company’s stock worth $177,782,000 after buying an additional 14,904 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Principal Financial Group Inc. raised its stake in Altria Group by 2.3% in the fourth quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 2,731,631 shares of the company’s stock worth $159,008,000 after buying an additional 61,215 shares in the last quarter.

Altria Group, Inc is a holding company. The Company’s subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc (PM USA), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes in the United States; John Middleton Co (Middleton), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of machine-made large cigars and pipe tobacco, and UST LLC (UST), which through its subsidiaries, including U.S.

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