Altria's (NYSE: MO) stock rose nearly 6% on Feb. 1 after its fourth-quarter report. The domestic tobacco leader's revenue (net of excise taxes) stayed nearly flat year over year at $5.08 billion but missed analysts' estimates by $70 million. Altria's bottom line beat suggested that its traditional tactics of raising prices, cutting costs, and buying back shares still enabled it to squeeze out higher earnings per share as declining smoking rates throttled its shipments.
Several companies have announced buybacks this earnings season, increasing their share repurchase programs. The most notable companies implementing lucrative buybacks are oil and gas giant Chevron (CVX) and big tobacco producer Altria (MO).
Today's call is scheduled to last about one hour, including remarks by Altria's management and the question-and-answer session. This morning, Billy Gifford, Altria's CEO; and Sal Mancuso, our CFO, will discuss Altria's fourth quarter and full year business results.