Altria Stock Ignores Negative Analyst Chatter

UBS, however, chimed in with a price-target hike

Deputy Editor
Jul 8, 2020 at 10:10 AM
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The shares of Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) are up 1.2% at $40.42 this morning, following a  couple of analyst adjustments. MO was downgraded to "equal weight" from "overweight" by Barclays, with a price-target cut to $43 from $50. The analyst in coverage noted that the company continues to lose market share, and estimates U.S. cigarette industry volumes to lose 3% for the fiscal 2020 year and 4% afterward. UBS also chimed in, raising its price target to $40 from $30. 

Overhead pressure at the 120-day moving average has guided the equity lower since its early June three month peak, and the trendline still looms up ahead. Down below, however, the 60-day moving average is moving in as a leg of support. Nevertheless, MO is still down nearly 20% year-to-date.

Coming into today, six out of nine analysts carried a "buy" or better rating on Altria Group stock, with the remaining three at a lukewarm "hold." Meanwhile, the 12-month consensus price target of $48.14 is a 20.5% premium to current levels. 

This bullish sentiment is carrying over into the options pits as well, per MO's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 2.55 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This ratio stands higher than 97% of all readings in the past year, suggesting a much healthier-than-usual appetite for long calls of late

With that being said, options may be a good way to speculate on MO's next move. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 28% stands higher than just 12% of all other readings in its annual range, implying that options players are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment. 



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