Altria Earnings, Revenues on the Light Side

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Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2013 results before markets opened Thursday morning. For the quarter, the tobacco company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.57 on revenues of $6.08 billion, including $1.68 billion in excise taxes paid. In the same period a year ago, the company reported adjusted EPS of $0.55 on revenues of $6.24 billion (including $1.78 in excise taxes). Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.58 and $4.47 billion in revenues, excluding excise taxes. After backing out the excise tax payments, Altria’s quarterly revenues totaled $4.4 billion, slightly lower than the consensus estimate.

For the full year, Altria posted adjusted EPS of $2.38 on revenues of $24.47 billion, including $6.8 billion in excise taxes, compared with EPS of $2.21 on revenues of $24.62 billion (including $7.12 billion in excise taxes) in 2012. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $2.39 on revenues of $17.73 billion. Excluding excise taxes from Altria’s 2013 revenues leaves a revenue figure of $17.67 billion, again slightly lower than the consensus estimate.

The company’s CEO said:

Higher pricing and our operating companies brand-building activities contributed to operating companies income growth in all three of our reportable segments. … Altria also took important steps toward future growth in e-vapor and other innovative products for adult tobacco consumers.

Altria owns about 27% of brewer SABMiller, which reduced Altria’s EPS by $0.01 in the 2013, compared with a loss of $0.08 in Altria’s EPS in 2012.

The company raised its quarterly dividend to $0.48 in December and currently pays a dividend yield of 5.1%.

For 2014, Altria forecasts adjusted diluted EPS in the range of $2.52 to $2.59. The consensus estimate for 2013 calls for EPS of $2.58 on revenues of $17.91 billion. For the first quarter, analysts estimate EPS at $0.57 on $4.01 billion in revenue.

Altria shares were inactive in premarket trading this morning, having closed Wednesday at $36.43, in a 52-week range of $33.12 to $38.58. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $39.70 before this report.