Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO), makers of Marlboro cigarettes and many other branded tobacco products, reported fourth quarter earnings this morning. Adjusted EPS came in at $0.50, a penny better than estimates. Revenue totaled $4.34 billion, also above the consensus estimate of $4.23 billion.
Net income for the quarter was down by -9% year-over-year at $836 million compared with $919 million in the same quarter a year ago. Earnings were boosted by the company’s cost cutting, which met a $1.5 billion reduction goal in the third quarter of 2011. The company is looking for an additional $400 million cuts by the end of 2013.
The company’s market share fell -0.7% to 41.6% of the total US market.
Altria announced the retirement of the company’s chairman and CEO, effective in May. The new chairman and CEO will be Martin Barrington, a 19-year veteran of the company.
The company’s 2012 guidance calls for full-year EPS of $2.14-$2.20, not including a $0.03/share adjustment. Analysts had a consensus estimate of $2.19. EPS for 2011 totaled $2.05 on an adjusted basis, slightly higher than the consensus estimate of $2.03.
Altria repurchased $1.3 billion in stock in 2011, out of $2 billion authorized in two repurchase programs. The company expects to complete the authorized repurchase program by the end of this year. Altria pays an annual dividend of $1.64/share, for a dividend yield of 5.7%.
Shares are trading higher by about 1.2% in the pre-market this morning, at $29.00 in a 52-week range of $23.20-$30.40.