Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Southern (NYSE:SO) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report sent to investors on Monday morning.

According to Zacks, “Following continued timing and cost overrun issues over two large construction projects – Vogtle and Kemper – we are recalibrating our investment thesis on Southern Company to Sell from Hold. Despite Georgia PSC's nod for the construction of the half-finished Vogtle nuclear plant expansion in Georgia, doubts remain about the $20 billion initiative that has gone well over budget and is years behind schedule. Southern is also facing challenges to place its Kemper, Mississippi project in service, which suffered yet another setback with the suspension of all coal gasification operations amid additional cost burden. We believe the financial stress from these projects, together with Southern’s hefty expenses to comply with environmental controls/regulations will cause an underperformance in the utility's shares relative to the market as well as the sector in the coming quarters.”

Other equities research analysts also recently issued reports about the company. JPMorgan Chase & Co. assumed coverage on Southern in a report on Friday, January 12th. They set an underweight rating and a $46.00 price objective on the stock. Goldman Sachs Group restated a sell rating on shares of Southern in a report on Wednesday, January 10th. SunTrust Banks set a $49.00 price objective on Southern and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Wednesday, January 3rd. Guggenheim restated a buy rating and set a $52.00 price objective on shares of Southern in a report on Wednesday, January 3rd. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada restated a buy rating on shares of Southern in a report on Friday, December 22nd. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $51.07.

Shares of Southern (NYSE SO) traded down $0.15 during trading hours on Monday, hitting $44.90. The company had a trading volume of 9,884,700 shares, compared to its average volume of 7,622,441. The stock has a market cap of $44,790.00, a P/E ratio of 80.18, a P/E/G ratio of 3.34 and a beta of 0.14. The company has a current ratio of 0.73, a quick ratio of 0.57 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73. Southern has a 1-year low of $44.26 and a 1-year high of $53.51.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, November 1st. The utilities provider reported $1.12 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.08 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $6.20 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $6.16 billion. Southern had a return on equity of 10.81% and a net margin of 2.59%. The company’s revenue was down 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the business posted $1.27 EPS. equities research analysts expect that Southern will post 2.96 EPS for the current year.

In other news, insider Art P. Beattie sold 46,941 shares of Southern stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, October 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $52.50, for a total value of $2,464,402.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 59,494 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,123,435. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, insider Ann P. Daiss sold 5,080 shares of Southern stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.28, for a total value of $270,662.40. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 7,474 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $398,214.72. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders sold 98,662 shares of company stock valued at $5,207,038. Insiders own 1.00% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC acquired a new position in Southern during the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $100,000. Farmers & Merchants Trust Co of Chambersburg PA acquired a new position in Southern during the 3rd quarter valued at approximately $105,000. Monroe Bank & Trust MI boosted its position in Southern by 17.9% during the 2nd quarter. Monroe Bank & Trust MI now owns 2,300 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $110,000 after purchasing an additional 350 shares during the period. AlphaMark Advisors LLC boosted its position in Southern by 0.6% during the 2nd quarter. AlphaMark Advisors LLC now owns 2,363 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $113,000 after purchasing an additional 14 shares during the period. Finally, Fieldpoint Private Securities LLC acquired a new position in Southern during the 3rd quarter valued at approximately $118,000. Institutional investors own 53.68% of the company’s stock.

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Southern 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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