Altria Group Inc. MO, -1.12% posted better-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter and offered profit guidance that was above consensus. Richmond, Va.-based Altria posted net income of $1.624 billion, or 88 cents a share, down from $1.924 billion, or $1.03 a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to $1.09, a penny ahead of the $1.08 FactSet consensus. Revenue edged down to $6.255 billion from $6.304 billion, but was ahead of the $4.998 billion FactSet consensus. Altria is now expecting 2022 adjusted EPS of $4.79 to $4.93, compared with a FactSet consensus of $4.84. “Altria will continue to monitor conditions related to (i) the economy, including the impact of increased inflation, (ii) the impact of current and future COVID-19 variants and mitigation strategies, (iii) ATC dynamics, including tobacco usage occasions, available disposable income, purchasing patterns and adoption of smoke-free products and (iv) regulatory and legislative developments,” it said in a statement. In the fourth quarter, EPS was hurt by special items stemming from the company’s investment in Canadian cannabis company Cronos inc. CRON, -1.82% CRON, -2.01% and a change in the estimated fair value of its investment in Juul. As of Dec. 31, the estimated value of that investment was $1.8 billion. Shares were up 0.4% premarket and have gained 18% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 SPX, -0.15% has gained 13%.
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