MO – Altria Group, Inc. – Rampant put buying ensued on Altria Group, Inc. late in the trading day with shares of the owner of Phillip Morris International, the cigarette manufacturer, down 0.65% to $20.07 just before 3:20 pm (ET). Yesterday the largest U.S. tobacco company sold $800 million of 5.25-year notes. Investors wary of continued erosion in the price of Altria’s shares through July expiration scooped up roughly 40,000 puts at the July $19 strike for an average premium of $0.34 per contract. Investors holding these contracts make money – or alternatively realize downside protection on a long underlying stock position – if shares trade beneath the average breakeven price of $18.66 by expiration day next month. Investors seeking more immediate protection purchased 10,000 puts at the higher July $20 strike for an average premium of $0.66 each. Higher-strike put players face an average breakeven share price of $19.34. The sudden surge in demand for put options on MO lifted the stock’s overall reading of options implied volatility 12.8% to 27.27% by 3:27 pm (ET).