Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) Lifted to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday, November 3rd.

According to Zacks, “SO is one of the largest and best-managed electric utility holding companies in the U.S., dominating the power business across the southeastern region. With good rate base growth and constructive regulation, we expect it to generate steady earnings and dividend growth in the coming years through its long-term power contracts. Additionally, the utility's $12 billion AGL Resources has significantly increased its customer base and diversified its offerings. However, continued timing and cost overrun issues over two large construction projects – Vogtle and Kemper – are major overhangs. While the $20 billion Vogtle nuclear plant has gone well over budget and is years behind schedule, Southern's Kemper project suffered yet another setback with the suspension of all coal gasification operations amid additional cost burden. The interplay of these factors account for our conservative investment thesis.”

Several other equities analysts have also issued reports on SO. Royal Bank Of Canada reissued a hold rating and set a $53.00 target price on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research note on Monday, July 31st. J P Morgan Chase & Co began coverage on Southern Company (The) in a report on Tuesday, August 8th. They set an overweight rating and a $16.78 price target on the stock. BidaskClub downgraded Southern Company (The) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report on Thursday, August 10th. Credit Suisse Group upgraded Southern Company (The) from an underperform rating to a neutral rating in a report on Thursday, August 3rd. Finally, Barclays PLC restated a buy rating and set a $54.00 price target on shares of Southern Company (The) in a report on Tuesday, July 25th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the company. Southern Company (The) presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $49.72.

Southern Company (NYSE SO) traded up $0.06 on Friday, reaching $51.36. The company had a trading volume of 2,642,981 shares, compared to its average volume of 4,686,553. Southern Company has a 1 year low of $46.20 and a 1 year high of $53.51. The company has a current ratio of 0.73, a quick ratio of 0.57 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73. The firm has a market cap of $51,550.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.61, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.62 and a beta of 0.15.

Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, November 1st. The utilities provider reported $1.12 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.08 by $0.04. Southern Company (The) had a return on equity of 10.81% and a net margin of 2.59%. The firm had revenue of $6.20 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $6.16 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $1.27 EPS. Southern Company (The)’s revenue was down 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. research analysts anticipate that Southern Company will post 2.95 earnings per share for the current year.

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The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, December 6th. Stockholders of record on Monday, November 20th will be issued a $0.58 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, November 17th. This represents a $2.32 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 4.52%. Southern Company (The)’s payout ratio is currently 414.29%.

In related news, insider Ann P. Daiss sold 5,080 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.28, for a total transaction of $270,662.40. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 7,474 shares in the company, valued at approximately $398,214.72. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 46,641 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, November 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.00, for a total value of $2,471,973.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 56,799 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,010,347. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 213,813 shares of company stock worth $11,029,988 in the last 90 days. 0.74% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC acquired a new stake in Southern Company (The) during the 3rd quarter worth approximately $2,088,000. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio lifted its position in Southern Company (The) by 0.8% during the 3rd quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio now owns 715,945 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $35,182,000 after acquiring an additional 5,792 shares during the period. Mcmillion Capital Management Inc. lifted its position in Southern Company (The) by 7.7% during the 3rd quarter. Mcmillion Capital Management Inc. now owns 13,995 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $688,000 after acquiring an additional 1,000 shares during the period. Coastline Trust Co lifted its position in Southern Company (The) by 12.0% during the 3rd quarter. Coastline Trust Co now owns 26,360 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $1,296,000 after acquiring an additional 2,825 shares during the period. Finally, Moors & Cabot Inc. lifted its position in Southern Company (The) by 29.7% during the 3rd quarter. Moors & Cabot Inc. now owns 47,475 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,342,000 after acquiring an additional 10,883 shares during the period. 52.64% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Southern Company (The)

The Southern Company (Southern Company) is a holding company. The Company owns all of the stock of the traditional electric operating companies and the parent entities of Southern Power Company (Southern Power) and Southern Company Gas, and owns other direct and indirect subsidiaries. The Company’s segments include Gas distribution operations, Gas marketing services, Wholesale gas services, Gas midstream operations and All other.

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Analyst Recommendations for Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO)

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