Southern Co (NYSE:SO) Given Average Recommendation of “Hold” by Brokerages

Shares of Southern Co (NYSE:SO) have earned an average recommendation of “Hold” from the sixteen research firms that are currently covering the firm, Marketbeat Ratings reports. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have assigned a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating on the company. The average twelve-month price target among brokerages that have updated their coverage on the stock in the last year is $60.32.

A number of brokerages recently issued reports on SO. Evercore ISI reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $63.50 price objective on shares of Southern in a research note on Sunday, December 15th. Credit Suisse Group raised their target price on shares of Southern from $60.00 to $64.00 and gave the stock an “underperform” rating in a research note on Wednesday, December 18th. SunTrust Banks lifted their price target on shares of Southern from $60.00 to $63.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, December 18th. Royal Bank of Canada reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $67.00 price target on shares of Southern in a research report on Sunday. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased their price objective on shares of Southern from $63.00 to $64.00 and gave the stock an “underweight” rating in a research note on Wednesday, December 18th.

NYSE:SO traded up $0.86 during mid-day trading on Thursday, hitting $68.12. 4,546,617 shares of the company traded hands, compared to its average volume of 4,114,815. The stock’s fifty day moving average price is $63.37 and its 200-day moving average price is $60.52. Southern has a one year low of $46.49 and a one year high of $68.29. The company has a quick ratio of 0.77, a current ratio of 0.94 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.37. The firm has a market cap of $70.54 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.48, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.71 and a beta of 0.15.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, October 30th. The utilities provider reported $1.34 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.20. Southern had a return on equity of 10.52% and a net margin of 21.02%. The firm had revenue of $6 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $6.01 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.14 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.7% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts predict that Southern will post 3.1 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 6th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, February 18th will be paid a $0.62 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, February 14th. This represents a $2.48 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.64%. Southern’s payout ratio is currently 80.78%.

In other news, CEO Anthony L. Wilson sold 61,018 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, January 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.00, for a total transaction of $3,966,170.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 90,208 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,863,520. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, CEO Thomas A. Fanning sold 2,066,499 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, December 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.99, for a total value of $130,168,772.01. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 1,236,147 shares in the company, valued at approximately $77,864,899.53. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 2,218,238 shares of company stock worth $139,737,603. Insiders own 0.88% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Merit Financial Group LLC grew its stake in Southern by 1.2% in the fourth quarter. Merit Financial Group LLC now owns 14,325 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $913,000 after purchasing an additional 165 shares in the last quarter. Farmers Trust Co. raised its position in Southern by 1.2% during the 3rd quarter. Farmers Trust Co. now owns 14,410 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $890,000 after buying an additional 172 shares during the last quarter. ZWJ Investment Counsel Inc. lifted its position in Southern by 0.7% during the third quarter. ZWJ Investment Counsel Inc. now owns 24,925 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,540,000 after purchasing an additional 175 shares during the period. Capital Advisors Ltd. LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Southern by 30.0% in the 3rd quarter. Capital Advisors Ltd. LLC now owns 780 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $48,000 after buying an additional 180 shares during the period. Finally, Washington Trust Bank grew its holdings in Southern by 1.5% during the third quarter. Washington Trust Bank now owns 12,945 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $799,000 after acquiring an additional 189 shares during the period. 58.97% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Southern

The Southern Company, through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. It operates in four segments: Gas Distribution Operations, Gas Pipeline Investments, Wholesale Gas Services, and Gas Marketing Services. 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, and Tennessee, as well as provides gas marketing services, wholesale gas services, and gas pipeline investments operations.

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Analyst Recommendations for Southern (NYSE:SO)

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