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Altria shares dip despite better-than-expected fourth quarter

"Altria had another strong year in 2017," said Marty Barrington, Altria chief executive
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Altria stock was down US$1.27 or 1.8%

Philip Morris-owner, Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) shares were on the back-foot despite fourth quarter results coming in ahead of Wall Street expectations.

Fourth quarter net income was reported at US$4.97bn, with the per share profit figure set at US$2.60 - meanwhile, earnings per share adjusted for one-time gains and costs amounted to 91 cents, beating consensus for 80 cents of earnings per share.

READ: Altria Group Inc shares ease premarket after mixed third quarter results

Full year earnings are now forecast between US$3.90 and US$4.03 per share.

"Altria had another strong year in 2017," said Marty Barrington, Altria chief executive.

"We delivered outstanding financial performance and continued to focus on rewarding our shareholders - paying out $4.8bn in dividends, increasing our dividend by 8.2% and repurchasing more than $2.9bn in shares.

“Our 2017 total shareholder return of 9.4% follows four consecutive years of returns exceeding 20%.”

At the same time, it emerged that Barrington will retire later this year and the company has now elected Howard Willard to take up the chief executive position.

Altria stock was down US$1.27 or 1.8% changing hands at US$69.02

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