Altria Profit Falls, Spinoff Set For March 28

Altria Group posted lower quarterly profit on Wednesday due to the spinoff last year of Kraft Foods, and set March 28 as the date for its planned spinoff of Philip Morris International.

The maker of Marlboro cigarettes also said it plans to repurchase $7.5 billion of its stock over two years following the spinoff. Repurchases have long been expected by analysts.

Altria said fourth-quarter net profit was $2.19 billion, or $1.03 per share, down from $2.96 billion, or $1.40 a share, a year earlier.

Altria has been able to increase prices to help boost its U.S. business, while the weak dollar has helped lift sales in its international operations.

But investors have been waiting for details about the spinoff of Philip Morris International and share buybacks.