Altria Revises 2012 Guidance in Presentation

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If there is one type of company that would seem as though it should not be presenting at a “back-to-school consumer conference,” it would be a tobacco company. But, hey … it is just a conference name. Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) is participating in the Barclays Back-To-School Consumer Conference in Boston, Mass., today, and Chairman and CEO Marty Barrington and CFO Howard Willard will be presenting to investors in a live webcast at approximately 11:15 a.m. EST.

At the conference, Altria is revising its full 2012 earnings guidance. The prior range of $2.01 to $2.05 in earnings per share is being lifted to $2.03 to $2.07 per share. The bump up is due to a $0.02 income tax benefit “primarily attributable to the reversal of tax reserves and associated interest related to the closure at the end of August 2012 of the Internal Revenue Service audit of the 2004 to 2006 tax years.”

Altria noted that the revised forecast reflects estimated total net expenses of $0.16 per share, “consisting of the loss on early extinguishment of debt and asset impairment, exit and implementation costs related to the current cost reduction program, partially offset by SABMiller plc (SABMiller) special items, a Philip Morris Capital Corporation (PMCC) leveraged lease benefit and the income tax benefit …”

Altria reaffirmed its 2012 full-year guidance for adjusted diluted EPS, excluding special items, in a range of $2.19 to $2.23 per share. This would put the earnings per share growth rate at 7% to 9% over its 2011 adjusted earnings of $2.05 per share.

We would note that Altria already recently raised its dividend and it offered guidance around the debt tenders and refinancing offers that lowered the tobacco giant’s cost of capital.

Altria shares have recovered off of the lows but shares are still down $0.02 at $34.38 in morning trading.

JON C. OGG

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