Following recent trading activity on shares of Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO), we can see that the stock has been hovering near the $56.4 price level. Shareholders might be asking themselves whether now is a good time to buy or sell the stock. Over the previous 12 weeks, the stock has moved 11.82%. Looking back over the last month, shares have moved 14.77%. Over the previous week, the stock has changed 3.03%. Investors may also be watching the current price in relation to the 52-week highs/lows. After a recent scan, we note that the 52-week high is presently 66.13, and the 52-week low is 43.33.

Once the individual investor has figured out a plan to analyze stocks, they can begin to start building a portfolio. Because not everyone has the same goals, time horizons, and risk appetites, it is hard to provide one answer to the question of how to construct the perfect winning stock portfolio. Although every investor’s goal is typically to beat the market and secure consistent profits, this is no easy accomplishment. Professionals have spent many years studying the ins and outs of the stock market. There are certain strategies that may work better during different market cycles, but it is hard to say with any certainty that they will continue to work in the future. Markets and economic landscapes are constantly changing, and being able to keep up with the changes might involve tweaking strategies that have previously been successful but no longer are.

After a recent stock review, we can see that Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) currently has an average broker rating of 2.02. Based on analysts polled by Zacks Research, this rating lands on an easy to follow scale from 1 to 5 where a 1 would indicate a Strong Buy and a 5 would represent a Strong Sell recommendation. Sell-side analysts often provide recommendations for stocks that they regularly cover. Different institutions may use various terminologies for how they describe their ratings. Because individual analyst ratings can vary, investors may choose to follow the average in order to track the general sell-side sentiment. Looking a little further, we can see that 9 polled analysts currently have the stock rated as a Strong Buy or Buy.

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Following some earnings data for Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO), we note that the current quarter EPS consensus estimate is 0.92. This EPS estimate is using data provided by 7 sell-side analysts polled by Zacks Research. This consensus estimate may vary from other data outlets providing consensus projections. Last quarter, the company reported a quarterly EPS of 0.95. Investors often pay extra close to the actual numbers when they are reported. If the actual comes in way under what the analysts were predicting, investors might want to take a deeper look to see what is going on with the stock. Investors may also be on the lookout for positive surprises on earnings beats. When a company reports actual earnings results, the surprise factor may cause the stock price to move sharply in either direction. Because it is difficult to gauge how a stock will react after the earnings report, investors may trade with increased caution during this period of time.

One of the most basic ideas that goes along with the stock market is buy low and sell high. Although this advice is overly obvious, many new investors will do the exact opposite when trading stocks. Inexperienced investors have the tendency to buy stocks that have been performing the best recently. This may be caused by certain factors such as not looking into the underlying fundamentals or just hoping that the stock will continue to rise. Rookie investors may also make the error of holding onto shares that continue to drop in value. Instead of cutting the loser loose, they hold off with the hope that eventually the stock will at least get back to the breakeven point. 

Investors tracking shares of Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) may be closely following analyst price target estimates. Reviewing company shares, we can see that the current average target price is 58.2. Keeping track of all the day to day stock market happenings can sometimes be a burden, even for the most seasoned investors. Investors may use sell-side analyst target estimates to help figure out if their assumptions about the future direction of a particular stock price are shared. Of course, nobody can project the future stock price of a company with exact precision. Investors may use analyst target prices as a good starting point for comparing current stock prices and making educated projections themselves.

Investors might be looking to find some bargains to add to the portfolio as we move closer towards the end of the year. Maybe some of the earlier portfolio picks don’t look as promising as they did a few months ago. There might also be a few names that have fallen off a cliff and do not look they will be returning to previous levels. Investors may be searching for a few overlooked stocks that the rest of the investing community has passed on for whatever reason. Nobody knows for sure what the next couple of quarters have in store. As earnings season kicks off, investors will be closely following the companies that manage to beat expectations by a wide margin.    

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