Altria Group Inc. Fourth Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) will unveil its latest earnings on Friday, January 27, 2012. Altria Group manufactures and sells cigarettes and tobacco products as well as maintaining a portfolio of leveraged and direct finance leases.

Altria Group, Inc. Earnings Preview Cheat Sheet

Wall St. Earnings Expectations: The average estimate of analysts is for net income of 49 cents per share, a rise of 11.4% 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 50 cents. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved down. It has been unchanged at 49 cents during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 6.8% versus last year to $2.03.

Past Earnings Performance: For the past four quarters, the company has met expectations. Last quarter, the company reported profit of 56 cents per share to fall in step with the mean estimate.

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Wall St. Revenue Expectations: Analysts are projecting a rise of 2.2% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $4.23 billion.

Analyst Ratings: Analysts seem relatively indifferent about Altria Group with seven of 12 analysts surveyed maintaining a hold rating.

A Look Back: In the third quarter, profit rose 3.7% to $1.17 billion (57 cents a share) from $1.13 billion (54 cents a share) the year earlier, meeting analyst expectations. Revenue fell 3% to $4.33 billion from $4.46 billion.

Key Stats:

Revenue has fallen for the past three quarters. Revenue fell 7.8% in second quarter from the year earlier and 0.2% in the first quarter.

While the company has been profitable for the last eight quarters, income has fallen year over year by an average of 2.9% over the past four quarters. The quarter hit the hardest was the second quarter, that saw a 57.4% drop.

Competitors to Watch: Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE:RAI), Lorillard Inc. (NYSE:LO), Philip Morris Intl. Inc. (NYSE:PM), Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE:VGR), Star Scientific, Inc. (NASDAQ:CIGX), British American Tobacco (AMEX:BTI), Alliance One Intl., Inc. (NYSE:AOI), and Universal Corporation (NYSE:UVV).

Stock Price Performance: During October 25, 2011 to January 23, 2012, the stock price had risen $1.98 (7.4%) from $26.63 to $28.61. The stock price saw one of its best stretches over the last year between March 16, 2011 and March 24, 2011 when shares rose for seven-straight days, rising 6.7% (+$1.57) over that span. It saw one of its worst periods between June 20, 2011 and June 29, 2011 when shares fell for eight-straight days, falling 4.4% (-$1.18) over that span.

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

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