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

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report issued 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.”

Other equities analysts have also issued research reports about the company. Credit Suisse Group raised Southern Company (The) from an underperform rating to a neutral rating in a report on Thursday, August 3rd. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Southern Company (The) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Thursday, August 10th. Jefferies Group LLC restated a buy rating and issued a $55.00 price objective on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research report on Wednesday, July 19th. Citigroup Inc. raised their price objective on shares of Southern Company (The) from $42.00 to $43.00 and gave the company a sell rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 26th. Finally, J P Morgan Chase & Co initiated coverage on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research report on Tuesday, August 8th. They issued an overweight rating and a $16.78 price objective for the company. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the stock. Southern Company (The) has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $49.72.

Southern Company (SO) remained flat at $$51.92 during midday trading on Friday. The stock had a trading volume of 1,749,228 shares, compared to its average volume of 4,711,449. The company has a quick ratio of 0.57, a current ratio of 0.73 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73. Southern Company has a 52 week low of $46.20 and a 52 week high of $53.51. The stock has a market cap of $52,110.00, a PE ratio of 19.02, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.73 and a beta of 0.15.

Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, November 1st. The utilities provider reported $1.12 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ 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 last year, the company posted $1.27 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was down 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts forecast that Southern Company will post 2.95 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, December 6th. Stockholders of record on Monday, November 20th will be given a dividend of $0.58 per share. 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 4.47%. Southern Company (The)’s payout ratio is 414.29%.

In related news, CEO William P. Bowers sold 85,151 shares of Southern Company (The) stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, October 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $50.00, for a total transaction of $4,257,550.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, VP James Y. Kerr II sold 25,000 shares of Southern Company (The) stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, October 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $52.16, for a total value of $1,304,000.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 26,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,356,160. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 213,813 shares of company stock valued at $11,029,988. Insiders own 1.00% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of SO. Bartlett & Co. LLC grew its stake in Southern Company (The) by 0.3% in the 2nd quarter. Bartlett & Co. LLC now owns 4,813 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $230,000 after acquiring an additional 14 shares during the period. AlphaMark Advisors LLC grew its stake in Southern Company (The) by 0.6% in the 2nd quarter. AlphaMark Advisors LLC now owns 2,363 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $113,000 after acquiring an additional 14 shares during the period. South Texas Money Management Ltd. grew its stake in Southern Company (The) by 0.3% in the 2nd quarter. South Texas Money Management Ltd. now owns 7,084 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $339,000 after acquiring an additional 19 shares during the period. WMS Partners LLC grew its stake in Southern Company (The) by 0.6% in the 2nd quarter. WMS Partners LLC now owns 4,387 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $210,000 after acquiring an additional 25 shares during the period. Finally, Regal Investment Advisors LLC grew its stake in Southern Company (The) by 0.4% in the 1st quarter. Regal Investment Advisors LLC now owns 7,990 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $398,000 after acquiring an additional 29 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 52.88% of the company’s stock.

Southern Company (The) Company Profile

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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