August 7, 2012 / 3:50 PM / 5 years ago

S&P assigns Altria notes 'BBB' rating

Aug 7 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it assigned its
'BBB' senior unsecured debt rating to Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc.'s
 $1.9 billion 2.85% senior unsecured notes maturing in 2022 and $900
million 4.25% senior unsecured notes due in 2042. We also assigned a preliminary
'BBB' senior unsecured debt rating to Altria's most recent Rule 415 shelf
registration. The new notes will be drawn from the company's shelf registration,
and are fully and unconditionally guaranteed by Philip Morris USA Inc., a wholly
owned subsidiary of Altria. 

Standard & Poor's expects Altria to use net proceeds from the issuance for the 
funding of its cash tender offer announced earlier today, tender premiums 
associated with the offer, and for general corporate purposes. The tender 
offer is for the purchase of up to $2 billion of outstanding senior unsecured 
notes. Following the recent repayment of $600 million of debt issued by UST 
Inc. (which matured in July 2012), we expect the company will maintain credit 
metrics at or close to current levels through the remainder of 2012. This 
includes leverage, as measured by the ratio of total debt to EBITDA, in the 
low-2x area.

The 'BBB/A-2' corporate credit rating on Altria remains unchanged, as does the 
stable_outlook. (For the complete corporate credit rating rationale, see the 
summary analysis on Altria, published March 29, 2012, on RatingsDirect.

RELATED CRITERIA AND RESEARCH
     -- Methodology And Assumptions: Liquidity Descriptors For Global 
Corporate Issuers, Sept. 28, 2011
     -- Key Credit Factors: Criteria For Rating The Global Branded Nondurable 
Consumer Products Industry, April 28, 2011
     -- Criteria Guidelines For Recovery Ratings On Global Industrial Issuers' 
Speculative-Grade Debt, Aug. 10, 2009
     -- Business Risk/Financial Risk Matrix Expanded, May 27, 2009
     -- Corporate Ratings Criteria 2008, April 15, 2008
     -- 2008 Corporate Criteria: Rating Each Issue, April 15, 2008

RATINGS LIST

Altria Group Inc.
 Corporate Credit Rating             BBB/Stable/A-2

New Ratings

Altria Group Inc.
 Senior Unsecured
  $1.9 bil 2.85% nts due 2022        BBB
  $900 mil 4.25% nts due 2042        BBB

Complete ratings information is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect on 
the Global Credit Portal at www.globalcreditportal.com. All ratings affected 
by this rating action can be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site at 
www.standardandpoors.com. Use the Ratings search box located in the left 
column.

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