Altria Group Inc. said Thursday it had net income of $1.5 billion, or 78 cents a share, in the third quarter, up from $1.4 billion, or 71 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to 75 cents, a penny below the FactSet consensus of 76 cents. Revenue rose 3.2% to $6.7 billion. The FactSet consensus was for $4.9 billion. The company said it still expects full-year adjusted EPS of $2.76 to $2.81, compared with the FactSet consensus of $2.82. Chief Executive Marty Barrington said the company welcomed the talks between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller on a possible merger as "a compelling opportunity to strengthen for our shareholders our position in the global brewing business." Altria is SABMiller's biggest shareholder. Shares rose 0.7% in premarket trade, but are up 24% in the year so far, while the S&P 500 has gained 1.5%.
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