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|ALTRIA GROUP, INC. filed this Form 8-K on 02/01/2018|
management team and our talented employees to continue to generate consistent growth and long-term value for our shareholders.”
Cash Returns to Shareholders - Dividends and Share Repurchase
In December 2017, the Board declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.66 per share. Altria’s current annualized dividend rate is $2.64 per share. As of January 26, 2018, Altria’s annualized dividend yield was 3.7%. Altria paid approximately $1.3 billion in dividends in the fourth quarter and $4.8 billion in 2017. From the end of 2012 through 2017, Altria has paid shareholders $21 billion in dividends. Altria expects to continue to return a large amount of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends by maintaining a dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80% of its adjusted diluted EPS. Future dividend payments remain subject to the discretion of the Board.
During the fourth quarter, Altria repurchased 8.4 million shares under its share repurchase program at an average price of $66.67, for a total cost of approximately $558 million. As of December 31, 2017, Altria had $18 million remaining in the $4 billion program, which it subsequently completed in January. Since 2011, Altria has repurchased approximately $8.5 billion of its shares at an average price of $44.22. Altria’s Board has authorized a new $1 billion share repurchase program, which the company expects to complete by the end of 2018. The timing of share repurchases depends upon marketplace conditions and other factors. This program remains subject to the discretion of the Board.
Non-combustible Product Portfolio
Altria continued to build on its three platforms of non-combustible, nicotine-containing products for authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In smokeless and other oral nicotine-containing products, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC (USSTC) made significant progress on its modified risk tobacco product application for Copenhagen Snuff, which it plans to file in the first quarter of 2018.
In e-vapor, Nu Mark LLC grew MarkTen’s full-year volume by approximately 60%, primarily through expanded distribution and category growth. MarkTen had a full-year 2017 national retail share of 12.5% in mainstream retail channels and is present in stores representing approximately 70% of e-vapor category volume in those channels. MarkTen Bold is now available in approximately 25,000 retail stores.
In heated tobacco, Philip Morris USA Inc. (PM USA) continues to build its commercialization plans for IQOS, which it will have the exclusive right to sell in the U.S. upon FDA authorization.