Altria Group Fourth Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Altria Group (NYSE:MO) will unveil its latest earnings tomorrow, Thursday, January 31, 2013. Altria Group manufactures and sells cigarettes and tobacco products as well as maintaining a portfolio of leveraged and direct finance leases.

Altria Group Earnings Preview Cheat Sheet

Wall St. Earnings Expectations: The average estimate of analysts is for profit of 54 cents per share, a rise of 8% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved down from 55 cents. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate was unchanged. It has since dropped over the last month. For the year, analysts are projecting net income of $2.21 per share, a rise of 7.8% from last year.

Past Earnings Performance: The company fell in line with estimates last quarter after topping forecasts the quarter before. After coming in above the mean estimate by 2 cents in the second quarter, the company fell in line with expectations by reporting profit of 58 cents per share last quarter.

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A Look Back: In the third quarter, profit fell 44% to $657 million (32 cents a share) from $1.17 billion (57 cents a share) the year earlier, meeting analyst expectations. Revenue rose 3.2% to $4.47 billion from $4.33 billion.

Here’s how Altria Group traded following its last earnings report 3 months ago and leading up to its upcoming earnings report this week:

mo

Analyst Ratings: With seven analysts rating the stock a buy, none rating it a sell and five rating the stock a hold, there are indications of a bullish stance by analysts. Over the past 90 days, the average rating for the stock has moved up from hold to moderate buy.

Balance Sheet Analysis: The company’s current ratio of assets to liabilities came in at 0.93 last quarter. The current ratio is an indication of a firm’s liquidity and ability to meet creditor demands and generally, a ratio less than one could indicate a company may have difficulty meeting current obligations. The company improved this liquidity measure from 0.85 in the second quarter to the last quarter driven in part by an increase in current assets. Current assets increased 15.4% to $5.93 billion while liabilities rose by 4.4% to $6.35 billion.

Key Stats:

On the top line, the company is looking to build on four-straight revenue increases heading into this earnings announcement. Revenue rose 5% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year, 1.3% in the first quarter and 62.1% in the second quarter before increasing again in the third quarter.

The company is looking to get back on track with this earnings announcement after a profit drop last quarter snapped a positive string of results. Net income rose 3.8% in the first quarter and more than twofold in the second quarter before dropping in the third quarter.

Wall St. Revenue Expectations: Analysts predict a decline of 0.5% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $4.33 billion.

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(Company fundamentals by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)