Like many stocks in 2022, shares of tobacco company Altria Group (MO 1.55%) haven't done well. Unlike many of those same stocks, Altria stock hasn't done well over the past five years. It's down 9% over that timeframe, even when factoring in its steady (and rather large) dividend. Combine that underwhelming performance with the social stigma around cigarettes -- Altria's core business -- and you have the negative sentiment that makes it hard to tempt most investors.

But the situation is not as bad as it appears on the surface. Yes, Altria has had a rough few years that were marred by expensive acquisitions that flopped. Still, this stock has more staying power than you might think. Here are three reasons the company isn't going anywhere, and the stock could be a solid investment.

1. The bad news is already priced into the stock

Altria's struggles in recent years aren't a secret. The company wasted billions on electronic-cigarette maker Juul and has broken off its relationship with sister company Philip Morris International, losing Iqos exposure in the U.S. market. This series of events explains the stock's sliding share price: It peaked near $75 in 2017 and has mostly been agony for investors ever since.

But share prices always need context. Bad news doesn't necessarily mean that a stock should keep going lower forever. One could argue that Wall Street has already punished Altria for its mistakes. The stock traded at a median price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of almost 18 over the past decade, but only has a P/E of 9.5 today (using estimated 2022 earnings).

Another way to look at this is that investors are willing to pay only half as much for a dollar of Altria's profits as they typically have over the past 10 years. Can that valuation go lower? Of course; nobody can predict a bottom.

But if you're buying shares today, the stock is already less risky because you're starting at a much lower valuation. Again, that doesn't promise a smooth ride, but the valuation at least reflects the reality that Altria has hit some rough patches.

2. A huge dividend that isn't going anywhere

Let's face it: Most investors hold Altria for its dividend. I can't say I blame them. The dividend yield is a whopping 8.2% today, hard to top in this market. Altria has proved itself to be an exceptional dividend stock over time, raising its dividend annually for 52 consecutive years.

Would management keep raising the dividend if the company was on the rocks? You wouldn't think so, but you can look at the dividend payout ratio to prove the dividend is feasible. Below you'll see that 81% of Altria's cash flow goes to the payout, roughly on par with the payout ratio a decade ago.

MO Dividend Chart

MO dividend, data by YCharts.

A steady payout ratio means that growing profits fuel dividend growth instead of management increasing the payout ratio until no profits are left for the business. Altria steadily increases its prices to make up for selling fewer cigarettes yearly. The company's operating profits have grown by an average of 5% annually over the past decade, enough to slightly bump up the dividend every year.

3. The ace in the hole that could keep growing

It's not discussed much, but Altria owns a roughly 10% stake in beer conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev. It's genuinely a financial ace in the hole, worth about $12 billion today. That stake represents about 15% of Altria's market cap. The company could sell that stake at any time for billions of dollars to pay down debt, fuel another acquisition, or repurchase a tremendous number of shares. 

Anheuser-Busch is still financially getting its feet under it from a heavily indebted balance sheet and its struggles during COVID-19. At one point, the brewer's market cap was as high as $240 billion, meaning Altria's stake could double in value if the company ever finds its former highs again.

Not only does the stake give Altria financial flexibility, but it's also a safety net for shareholders should its business ever face financial distress. When you factor in the company's well-funded dividend and this multibillion-dollar stake, it's clear that Altria is still rock-solid. Consider the cheap valuation, and you'll see that the stock could have a better future than its recent past.