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

SO has been the topic of a number of other reports. Macquarie raised Southern Company (The) from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and set a $52.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Monday, July 10th. Jefferies Group LLC reissued a buy rating and set a $56.00 target price (up from $55.00) on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research report on Tuesday, September 12th. KeyCorp reissued a hold rating on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research report on Friday, September 1st. Mizuho raised Southern Company (The) from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $53.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, September 5th. Finally, Guggenheim raised Southern Company (The) from a neutral rating to a buy rating and lifted their target price for the stock from $49.00 to $56.00 in a research report on Thursday, September 14th. 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. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $49.72.

Shares of Southern Company (NYSE:SO) traded down $0.81 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $52.44. The stock had a trading volume of 4,840,000 shares, compared to its average volume of 4,011,730. The firm has a market capitalization of $52,630.25, a P/E ratio of 19.07, a P/E/G ratio of 4.74 and a beta of 0.15. Southern Company has a 12 month low of $46.20 and a 12 month high of $53.51. The company has a current ratio of 0.73, a quick ratio of 0.53 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73.

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

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The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, December 6th. Shareholders of record on Monday, November 20th will be issued a dividend of $0.58 per share. This represents a $2.32 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.42%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, November 17th. Southern Company (The)’s payout ratio is 414.29%.

In other 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 legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. 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 shares were sold at an average price of $52.16, for a total transaction of $1,304,000.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 26,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,356,160. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 162,092 shares of company stock worth $8,287,353 over the last ninety days. Company insiders own 1.00% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of SO. Mutual of America Capital Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Southern Company (The) by 3.6% in the first quarter. Mutual of America Capital Management LLC now owns 122,318 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $6,089,000 after acquiring an additional 4,307 shares during the last quarter. Telos Capital Management Inc. raised its position in Southern Company (The) by 2.9% in the 1st quarter. Telos Capital Management Inc. now owns 31,789 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $1,583,000 after purchasing an additional 901 shares during the last quarter. Stevens Capital Management LP raised its position in Southern Company (The) by 58.8% in the 1st quarter. Stevens Capital Management LP now owns 88,633 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $4,412,000 after purchasing an additional 32,831 shares during the last quarter. FCA Corp TX raised its position in Southern Company (The) by 2.0% in the 1st quarter. FCA Corp TX now owns 50,107 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,494,000 after purchasing an additional 990 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Ffcm LLC raised its position in Southern Company (The) by 8.3% in the 1st quarter. Ffcm LLC now owns 48,048 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,393,000 after purchasing an additional 3,674 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 53.14% 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.

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

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