It almost seems too good to be true that a tobacco giant can keep raising its dividend year in and year out. After all, smoking cigarettes is just not that popular anymore and it’s about as reliable of a killer as any other product that can be bought by consumers. But in a world of vaping, alternative to combustion cigarettes and investing in legalized marijuana, this industry has managed to survive and thrive. There are of course many ongoing risks, but Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) has just tried to signal more confidence to its shareholders with yet another dividend hike.
Altria’s board of directors voted to increase its regular quarterly dividend to $0.84 from $0.80 per common shares. With a $3.36 annualized dividend per share, Altria’s dividend yield for new buyers based on a $46.50 share price will get a dividend yield of 7.22%.
According to the company, this was Altria’s 54th dividend hike in the past 50 years. Altria already had the eighth-highest dividend yield of all S&P 500 stocks, and it will now run into a dead-heat race for having the sixth-highest yield of the S&P 500.
Altria’s press release remained consistent with past releases of the same sort with the goal of returning a substantial amount of cash to its shareholders. The company has a target of paying out approximately 80% of Altria’s adjusted diluted earnings per share via capital returns.
Altria’s market cap is roughly $86.5 billion based on a $46.50 share price. Its 52-week trading range is $42.40 to $66.04 and its Refinitiv consensus analyst target price is still up above $57.00.
The higher quarterly dividend is payable on October 10, 2019, to shareholders of record as of September 16, 2019, and its ex-dividend date is September 13, 2019.
Howard Willard, Altria’s board chair and chief executive officer, said of the hike:
We are extremely proud of Altria’s fifty-year history of dividend growth. Over the past half century, Altria has demonstrated its steadfast commitment to rewarding shareholders despite numerous shifts in the tobacco landscape. Today, we remain focused on our shareholders as we lead the industry through a period of evolution.
Being a Dividend Aristocrat only requires 25 consecutive years of dividend hikes. As for dividend hikes of 50 years, here are 10 other well-known stocks that have 50 straight years of dividend hikes.