Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday.

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 reports about the stock. Credit Suisse Group upgraded shares of Southern Company (The) from an “underperform” rating to a “neutral” rating in a report on Thursday, August 3rd. BidaskClub lowered shares of Southern Company (The) from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Thursday, August 10th. Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $55.00 target price on shares of Southern Company (The) in a report on Wednesday, July 19th. Citigroup Inc. lifted their target price on shares of Southern Company (The) from $42.00 to $43.00 and gave the company a “sell” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 26th. Finally, J P Morgan Chase & Co began coverage on shares of Southern Company (The) in a report on Tuesday, August 8th. They set an “overweight” rating and a $16.78 target price for the company. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have assigned a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $49.44.

Shares of Southern Company (NYSE:SO) traded up 0.39% during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $50.94. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 4,632,493 shares. The company has a market cap of $50.91 billion, a P/E ratio of 83.78 and a beta of 0.13. The company has a 50-day moving average of $49.42 and a 200-day moving average of $49.35. Southern Company has a 12 month low of $46.20 and a 12 month high of $52.23.

Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.73 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.71 by $0.02. Southern Company (The) had a net margin of 2.93% and a return on equity of 11.30%. The firm had revenue of $5.43 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.23 billion. During the same period last year, the business earned $0.74 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 21.7% 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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In other Southern Company (The) news, CEO William P. Bowers sold 85,151 shares of Southern Company (The) stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, October 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $50.00, for a total value of $4,257,550.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 75,144 shares of Southern Company (The) stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $49.29, for a total transaction of $3,703,847.76. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 85,298 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $4,204,338.42. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 1.00% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Fulton Bank N.A. grew its position in Southern Company (The) by 4.6% in the 3rd quarter. Fulton Bank N.A. now owns 48,711 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,394,000 after purchasing an additional 2,122 shares during the period. Beacon Financial Group grew its position in Southern Company (The) by 1.3% in the 3rd quarter. Beacon Financial Group now owns 192,630 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $9,466,000 after purchasing an additional 2,499 shares during the period. Eqis Capital Management Inc. grew its position in Southern Company (The) by 6.6% in the 3rd quarter. Eqis Capital Management Inc. now owns 19,465 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $957,000 after purchasing an additional 1,199 shares during the period. Park National Corp OH grew its position in Southern Company (The) by 0.9% in the 3rd quarter. Park National Corp OH now owns 119,704 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $5,882,000 after purchasing an additional 1,121 shares during the period. Finally, MPS Loria Financial Planners LLC bought a new stake in Southern Company (The) in the 2nd quarter worth approximately $148,000. 53.27% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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.

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

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