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Ahead of the Bell: Altria Group

NEW YORK --Shares of Altria Group Inc. inched higher in Tuesday premarket trading as Deutsche Bank upgraded the food and tobacco conglomerate amid a decline in the share price and the company's approaching spinoff of its majority stake in Kraft Foods Inc.

Shares of Altria have declined around 9 percent since a 52-week high of $90.50 on Jan. 11, and analyst Marc Greenberg wondered whether investors were spooked by finalization of the spinoff.

"It is possible that the underlying value of Altria's tobacco business has been obscured simply by confusion over the impact that the Kraft spin may have," Greenberg wrote in a client note.

Although investors might be wary of Altria's post-Kraft strategies, Greenberg said opportunities remain to unlock value through a restructuring of its balance sheet or merger and acquisition prospects.

"We have always preferred to buy tobacco assets at periods when investor fear peaks," Greenberg wrote.

Greenberg upgraded the shares to "Buy" from "Hold" and kept a $71 price target on the shares -- post-spinoff.

Altria shares rose $1.04 to $83.25 in the premarket.

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