Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Southern Co. (NYSE:SO) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Tuesday. Zacks Investment Research currently has $60.00 price objective on the stock.
According to Zacks, “Despite a decline in electric sales, Southern company has maintained its excellent track record of earnings surprise history, beating estimates in each of the last four quarters. One of the largest and best-managed electric utility holding companies in the U.S., SO dominates 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 acquisition of AGL Resources has significantly increased its customer base and is expected to help generate more revenues. Sporting a low beta – translating into less volatility – and a reasonable valuation, we see Southern Company as an attractive investment.”
A number of other equities analysts have also issued reports on SO. Argus reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Southern in a research report on Wednesday, June 15th. Mizuho reiterated a hold rating and set a $50.00 price target on shares of Southern in a research note on Monday, July 11th. Jefferies Group reiterated a hold rating on shares of Southern in a research note on Monday, July 11th. Barclays PLC upgraded shares of Southern from an equal weight rating to an overweight rating and lifted their price target for the stock from $54.00 to $62.00 in a research note on Thursday, July 14th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reiterated a neutral rating and set a $54.00 price target on shares of Southern in a research note on Thursday, July 14th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $53.50.
Southern (NYSE:SO) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.74 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.70 by $0.04. Southern had a net margin of 13.77% and a return on equity of 12.50%. The business had revenue of $4.45 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $4.54 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $0.71 earnings per share. Southern’s revenue was up 2.7% compared to the same quarter last year.
The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, September 6th. Investors of record on Monday, August 15th were issued a $0.56 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, August 11th. This represents a $2.24 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 4.37%. Southern’s dividend payout ratio is 87.50%.
In related news, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 46,008 shares of Southern stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.40, for a total value of $2,456,827.20. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 56,149 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,998,356.60. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, CEO Stan W. Connally sold 14,392 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, August 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.75, for a total value of $773,570.00. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 17,716 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $952,235. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.00% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.
Hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Krilogy Financial LLC boosted its stake in shares of Southern by 87.8% in the second quarter. Krilogy Financial LLC now owns 2,066 shares of the company’s stock valued at $111,000 after buying an additional 966 shares in the last quarter. MCF Advisors LLC boosted its stake in shares of Southern by 89.2% in the first quarter. MCF Advisors LLC now owns 2,543 shares of the company’s stock valued at $132,000 after buying an additional 1,199 shares in the last quarter. Zions Bancorporation boosted its stake in shares of Southern by 1.3% in the first quarter. Zions Bancorporation now owns 2,559 shares of the company’s stock valued at $132,000 after buying an additional 32 shares in the last quarter. Loomis Sayles & Co. L P boosted its stake in shares of Southern by 447.9% in the second quarter. Loomis Sayles & Co. L P now owns 2,471 shares of the company’s stock valued at $133,000 after buying an additional 2,020 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Barnett & Company Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Southern during the first quarter valued at $155,000. 48.64% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.
The Southern Company (Southern Company) is a holding company. The Company owns all of the stock of the traditional operating companies and Southern Power Company (Southern Power), and owns other direct and indirect subsidiaries. Southern Company’s segments include the sale of electricity by four traditional operating companies, Southern Power and All Other.
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