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Altria (MO) Gains But Lags Market: What You Should Know

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Altria (MO) closed at $37.31 in the latest trading session, marking a +1.83% move from the prior day. The stock lagged the S&P 500's daily gain of 3.35%. Elsewhere, the Dow gained 3.19%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 3.62%.

Prior to today's trading, shares of the owner of Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest cigarette maker had lost 9.08% over the past month. This has was narrower than the Consumer Staples sector's loss of 13.82% and the S&P 500's loss of 14.37% in that time.

Investors will be hoping for strength from MO as it approaches its next earnings release. On that day, MO is projected to report earnings of $0.99 per share, which would represent year-over-year growth of 10%. Meanwhile, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenue is projecting net sales of $4.59 billion, up 4.51% from the year-ago period.

MO's full-year Zacks Consensus Estimates are calling for earnings of $4.38 per share and revenue of $20.20 billion. These results would represent year-over-year changes of +3.79% and +2.06%, respectively.

Any recent changes to analyst estimates for MO should also be noted by investors. These revisions typically reflect the latest short-term business trends, which can change frequently. With this in mind, we can consider positive estimate revisions a sign of optimism about the company's business outlook.

Our research shows that these estimate changes are directly correlated with near-term stock prices. Investors can capitalize on this by using the Zacks Rank. This model considers these estimate changes and provides a simple, actionable rating system.

The Zacks Rank system, which ranges from #1 (Strong Buy) to #5 (Strong Sell), has an impressive outside-audited track record of outperformance, with #1 stocks generating an average annual return of +25% since 1988. Within the past 30 days, our consensus EPS projection has moved 0.94% lower. MO is currently a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Investors should also note MO's current valuation metrics, including its Forward P/E ratio of 8.36. Its industry sports an average Forward P/E of 9.47, so we one might conclude that MO is trading at a discount comparatively.

It is also worth noting that MO currently has a PEG ratio of 1.32. This popular metric is similar to the widely-known P/E ratio, with the difference being that the PEG ratio also takes into account the company's expected earnings growth rate. Tobacco stocks are, on average, holding a PEG ratio of 1.32 based on yesterday's closing prices.

The Tobacco industry is part of the Consumer Staples sector. This group has a Zacks Industry Rank of 97, putting it in the top 39% of all 250+ industries.

The Zacks Industry Rank gauges the strength of our individual industry groups by measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups. Our research shows that the top 50% rated industries outperform the bottom half by a factor of 2 to 1.

You can find more information on all of these metrics, and much more, on Zacks.com.

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