Altria Gains On Jefferies Upgrade With $58 Target

© Reuters

By Dhirendra Tripathi – Altria (NYSE:) shares rose 2.5% in Friday’s trade following an upgrade by a Jefferies (NYSE:) analyst to buy.

Analyst Owen Bennett has given a $58 target for shares of the Marlboro maker. That’s 14% higher than the current price. He earlier had a hold rating on the stock. 

While people continue to quit cigarette smoking, Altria has other opportunities in e-cigarettes and marijuana, especially if it uses its investment in beer giant Anheuser Busch Inbev SA NV (BR:) to fund it, the analyst said. 

Altria’s “metrics would appear to be increasingly challenged if the shift away from smokers accelerates, we think this misses significant underappreciated optionality in vapour and cannabis via M&A, especially if selling its ABI stake to fund this,” Bennett said in a note.

Altria holds 10% stake in the Budweiser-maker. Experts have long argued for Altria to sell the stake and use the proceeds to either go for a share buyback or cut debt.

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