Altria, parent of Philip Morris USA, to raise quarterly shareholder dividend 7.9% to US$0.41, reflects company's intention 'to return a large amount of cash to shareholders'

Michelle Rivera

Michelle Rivera

Aug 26, 2011 – Associated Press

RICHMOND, Virginia , August 26, 2011 (press release) – Altria Group Inc., the parent of the Philip Morris USA tobacco empire, said Friday that it would raise its quarterly shareholder dividend to 41 cents from 38 cents.

The Richmond, Va., company said the 7.9 percent increase reflects its intention "to return a large amount of cash to shareholders." Dividends are cash payouts that companies give to shareholders, and they can serve as an incentive to hold a company's shares.

Like other tobacco companies, Altria Group is under increasing pressure from strict regulations about tobacco marketing, high-profile legal cases that have hurt the general industry, and an overall decline in U.S. smoking rates. Last month it reported that second-quarter revenue had fallen 5.6 percent and net income had plummeted 57 percent.

The dividend is payable Oct. 11 to shareholders of record Sept. 15.

Shares of Altria were flat at $26.01 in morning trading.

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