Marlboro cigarattes-maker abandons buybacks amid coronavirus

Altria Group plans to keep paying a dividend

Marlboro cigarettes maker Altria Group Inc. abandoned its earnings forecast for 2020 and beyond, citing “uncertainty” related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Shares of the company, however, rose about 3% in early trading after it said it would continue to pay a dividend.

Altria said it would approach the 2020 dividend by recommending a quarterly rate that reflects its cash position and balance sheet strength.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MOALTRIA GROUP INC.38.27-0.06-0.16%

To save cash, its board also decided to rescind its $1 billion share buyback program that had $500 million remaining.

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Revenue, net of excise taxes, rose 15% to $5.05 billion, helped by shoppers stocking up on cigarettes ahead of coronavirus-related shutdowns around the world. Analysts on average expected $4.61 billion, according to Refinitiv.

Earnings per share came in at $1.09, handily beating the average analyst estimate of 98 cents per share.