The cigarette game remains exciting more for courtroom drama than the marketplace. That fact was driven home today by business as usual from Altria Group (NYSE:MO). The firm's third-quarter results show modest gains on the top and bottom lines, but nothing that would signal an end to the stock's recent doldrums. Revenues climbed 8.5% over last year's Q3, but a quarter of that was favorable foreign exchange. Earnings per share of $1.29 represent a modest 5.7% gain, hampered, to some extent, by mediocre results at Kraft (NYSE:KFT).

Aside from that, the quarter looks much like any other: a bit of market lost here, a bit of gain there. And the give and take worked out well, since the give across the pond made up for the take back home.

In Europe, there were big drops in Germany and France, and even the smoke-happy Italians exhibited a reduced appetite for Marlboros. Still, gains in other foreign markets such as Spain, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe -- lifted by acquisitions as well -- helped Altria book a 5.1% increase in volume.

Sure, there are legal hurdles, and yes, this fish is so big that it may never get much bigger, but with huge free cash flow and a dividend that should make income investors salivate, Altria, like peer Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI), is a steady-looking staple for investors who can both get over the whole smoking thing and pick it up when it's cheap.

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Seth Jayson has to admit that he's swayed by 6% dividend yields. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.