Altria’s Dividend Growth Still Smokin’

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While smoking rates have dwindled handily from their highs of years past, U.S. tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) keeps managing to survive while introducing new products and changing up its mix. And the company’s board of directors just delivered yet another dividend hike.

Here is what should stand out about this dividend hike: Altria has now raised its dividend 52 times in the past 49 years.

The dividend was raised by 6.1%, lifting the quarterly payouts to $0.70 per common share from the prior $0.66.

Altria’s new annualized dividend rate of $2.80 per common share will generate a yield of 4.3%, based on a $62.90 share price. That is more than 140 basis points higher than the 10-year Treasury yield, and it is still more than 115 basis points higher than the 30-year Treasury yield. Amazingly, the yield is still lower than the dividend yields from AT&T and Verizon.

Altria’s dividend strategy remains in place. The company said of the hike:

Today’s dividend increase reflects Altria’s intention to return a large amount of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and is consistent with Altria’s dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80% of its adjusted diluted earnings per share.

Altria’s quarterly dividend will be payable on April 10, 2018, to shareholders of record as of March 15, 2018. The company also showed that the ex-dividend date is March 14, 2018.

Altria’s share price of $62.90 is in a 52-week range of $60.01 to $77.79. The Thomson Reuters consensus analyst price target is $77.23.