Tobacco company Altria Group, Inc. (MO) will increase its quarterly dividend by 2.4 percent to 86 cents per share in 2020. This comes after a 5.0 percent dividend hike to $0.84 per common share in 2019 and marks the 51st consecutive year of annual dividend increases by the Dividend Aristocrat.
The next dividend will be paid on October 9, 2020 to shareholders of record on September 15, 2020. The ex-dividend date is September 14, 2020. The new annualized dividend rate of $3.44 per common share represents a yield of 8.1% based on Altria’s closing stock price of $42.52 on July 28, 2020.
From the company's press release: “We’re pleased to announce that yesterday, our Board declared a quarterly dividend of $0.86 per share, representing a new annualized dividend rate of $3.44 per share and an increase of 2.4% from the previous annualized rate of $3.36 per share. This dividend increase marks the 55th dividend increase in the past 51 years,” said Sal Mancuso, Altria’s Chief Financial Officer.
Last year Altria hiked its dividend by 5.0 percent to 84 cents per share quarterly, being the smallest dividend hike announced in many years. The average annual dividend hike by Altria in the last five years drops to 8.8 percent. This is still relative high because of the bigger increases announced from 2016 to 2018, with a big 21.2 percent dividend boost announced by Altria in 2018.
The company now pays an estimated $6.4 billion in dividends to shareholders annually, trailing only 15 other US Companies with higher annual dividend payments currently. The biggest dividend payer is Microsoft with an estimated annual dividend payment of $15.5 billion.
Other Dividend Aristocrats announcing a dividend hike this month are Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and PPG Industries.
Altria Group, Inc. is a holding company incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1985. Altria’s wholly-owned subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC, John Middleton Co., Nu Mark LLC, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. and Philip Morris Capital Corporation. Altria's tobacco brands include Marlboro, Black & Mild, Copenhagen, Skoal, MarkTen and Green Smoke. Altria also holds an equity investment of 10.2% in brewer AnheuserBusch InBev, received in 2016 when the Belgian company acquired SABMiller in which Altria had an approximate 27% ownership. Altria previously owned Kraft Foods and Philip Morris International. Kraft Foods, Inc. spin-off was completed March 30, 2007 and Philip Morris International spin-off was completed March 28, 2008.