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Altria Group buyback raised to $1B from $300M

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. is boosting its existing repurchase program to $1 billion from $300 million.

The owner of America's biggest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, said Friday that it plans to complete the program by the end of 2014's third quarter.

Altria also announced that it is raising its quarterly dividend by about 9 percent to 48 cents per share from 44 cents per share. The dividend will be paid on Oct. 10 to shareholders of record on Sept. 16.

Last month, the company reported that its second-quarter profit climbed as higher prices and lower expenses from a longstanding legal settlement offset a decline in cigarette sales.

The Richmond, Va., company's stock added 44 cents to $34 in afternoon trading.