Altria ups dividend despite U.S. nicotine proposal hit to sharesTobacco company Altria Group Inc raised its dividend by 8.2 percent on Thursday, signaling the company did not expect a U.S. government proposal to reduce nicotine in cigarettes to threaten its ability to make the payment to shareholders. The increase, which was widely anticipated by investors, came as tobacco stocks remained well below where they stood on July 28 before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed cutting nicotine in cigarettes to “non-addictive” levels to encourage a shift to potentially less harmful e-cigarettes. Shares of Altria are down 13.8 percent since then, while those of Phillip Morris International Inc, which has a larger e-cigarette business, have lost roughly 4 percent over the same time.

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