Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Southern (NYSE:SO) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report released on Thursday.
According to Zacks, “Southern Company is one of the largest and best-managed electric utility holding companies in the United States, dominating the power business across the southeastern region. With good rate base growth and constructive regulation, it is expected to generate steady earnings and dividend growth in the coming years through long-term power contracts. Additionally, SO's $12 billion AGL Resources buy has significantly increased its customer base and diversified offerings. However, continued timing and cost overrun issues over two large construction projects – Vogtle and Kemper – are major overhangs. While the $25 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. Hence, Southern Company warrants a cautious stance from the investors. “
SO has been the topic of several other reports. SunTrust Banks reiterated a hold rating and issued a $48.00 price objective on shares of Southern in a research report on Thursday, November 8th. Bank of America upgraded shares of Southern from an underperform rating to a neutral rating and set a $46.00 price target on the stock in a research report on Wednesday, October 10th. Citigroup downgraded shares of Southern from a neutral rating to a sell rating and set a $45.00 price target on the stock. in a research report on Wednesday, August 8th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Southern from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report on Friday, October 19th. Finally, Morgan Stanley dropped their price target on shares of Southern from $45.00 to $44.00 and set a sell rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, September 21st. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have given a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the stock. Southern has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $46.18.
Southern (NYSE:SO) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, November 7th. The utilities provider reported $1.14 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.07 by $0.07. The firm had revenue of $6.70 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $6.68 billion. Southern had a net margin of 10.35% and a return on equity of 12.88%. Southern’s quarterly revenue was up 8.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.12 EPS. On average, research analysts expect that Southern will post 3.03 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, December 6th. Shareholders of record on Monday, November 19th will be given a dividend of $0.60 per share. The ex-dividend date is Friday, November 16th. This represents a $2.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 5.07%. Southern’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 79.47%.
Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. CIBC World Markets Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Southern by 1.0% in the 3rd quarter. CIBC World Markets Inc. now owns 106,867 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $4,659,000 after purchasing an additional 1,071 shares in the last quarter. Andra AP fonden raised its holdings in shares of Southern by 2.1% in the 2nd quarter. Andra AP fonden now owns 52,500 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,431,000 after purchasing an additional 1,100 shares in the last quarter. Prime Capital Investment Advisors LLC raised its holdings in shares of Southern by 10.6% in the 3rd quarter. Prime Capital Investment Advisors LLC now owns 11,597 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $506,000 after purchasing an additional 1,107 shares in the last quarter. Summit Asset Management LLC raised its holdings in shares of Southern by 15.1% in the 3rd quarter. Summit Asset Management LLC now owns 8,868 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $387,000 after purchasing an additional 1,165 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Evercore Wealth Management LLC raised its holdings in shares of Southern by 5.2% in the 3rd quarter. Evercore Wealth Management LLC now owns 23,691 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $1,033,000 after purchasing an additional 1,171 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 56.97% of the company’s stock.
The Southern Company, through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. The company also constructs, acquires, owns, and manages power generation assets, including renewable energy facilities and sells electricity in the wholesale market; and distributes natural gas in Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, Tennessee, and Maryland, as well as provides gas marketing services, wholesale gas services, and gas midstream operations.
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