maker of Marlboros and the largest U.S. cigarette company, has long viewed its dividend as the best way to return capital to investors. The approach is popular with its income-oriented retail base—an estimated 40% of shareholders, more than double the
Altria has raised the dividend for 50 years; it has a nearly 9% yield. Since 2010, it’s targeted a roughly 80% payout ratio of earnings to dividends, among the S&P 500’s highest. In early March, Altria cut its ties with e-cig maker Juul Labs—leading to a $12 billion loss—and bought smaller NJOY for $2.7 billion.