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Altria Plans To Buy Back Up to $2 Billion in Debt

By Tess Stynes Altria Group Inc. (MO) unveiled plans to buy back as much as $2 billion of its long-term debt, as well as plans to issue new debt. The maker of Marlboro and other cigarette brands is planning to buy back a portion of four series of notes with a total principal outstanding of about $8.3 billion. Altria's $5.3 billion in two series of notes that come due in 2018 and 2019 will be given first priority. It is also offering to buy back $3 billion of notes in two series maturing in 2038 and 2039, which will have second priority and a limit of $500 million. The company didn't disclose the size of the new notes offer. Altria expects to post charges of 33 cents a share in the third quarter related to the debt tender offer. The company also affirmed its 2012 adjusted earnings guidance and expectations that adjusted earnings will moderate in the second half of the year from the first half of 2012, and that adjusted results in the fourth quarter will be stronger than in the third quarter. Altria last month reported that its second-quarter earnings more than doubled on higher smokeless volume and as domestic cigarette shipments outperformed the broader industry, while the prior-year period included a steep tax-related charge. Shares recently fell 0.2% to $35.86 premarket. The stock is up nearly 39% in the past 52 weeks. Write to Tess Stynes at Tess.Stynes@dowjones.com Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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