Earlier today, Altria Group announced that it will pay $2.9 billion to purchase John Middleton from privately held Bradford Holdings. MO is purchasing the cigar maker from privately held Bradford Holdings, and the acquisition is expected to modestly add to MO's 2008 earnings and generate an attractive double-digit economic return. The acquisition's net cost, after subtracting roughly $700 million in present value tax benefits arising from the terms of the transaction, stands at $2.2 billion and will be financed mainly with existing cash.

After breaking out of a trading range by topping the 72 level, the stock has consolidated a bit. The equity's 10-day moving average has eclipsed the 72 level as well and is pointed directly higher. Watch for this trendline to potentially shove the stock higher as well. Furthermore, MO's 10-week moving average recently completed a bullish cross of its 20-week cohort. This formation is often considered a bullish indicator. Perhaps the strongest technical indicator for MO is its 10-month moving average, which it hasn't closed below since May 2006. This trendline has provided rather solid support since early 2003 and appears ready to escort the stock higher still.