Southern (SO) – Analysts’ Weekly Ratings Changes

Several brokerages have updated their recommendations and price targets on shares of Southern (NYSE: SO) in the last few weeks:

  • 12/27/2017 – Southern was downgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating. According to Zacks, “SO is one of the largest and best-managed electric utility holding companies in the U.S. 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. Further, the company’s Vogtle Project also received approval from Georgia PSC. However, the decision to continue with the project may increase the credit risk of the company. As it is , the cost overrun issues over its Vogtle and Kemper projects continue to weigh on SO’s already weak financials. High leverage of over 60% poses major roadblock in the growth of the company. Thus we take a cautious stance on the prospects of the stock.”
  • 12/26/2017 – Southern had its “hold” rating reaffirmed by analysts at SunTrust Banks, Inc.. They now have a $50.00 price target on the stock.
  • 12/26/2017 – Southern had its “buy” rating reaffirmed by analysts at Mizuho. They now have a $52.00 price target on the stock.
  • 12/22/2017 – Southern had its “buy” rating reaffirmed by analysts at Royal Bank of Canada.
  • 12/12/2017 – Southern was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating. They now have a $57.00 price target on the stock. According to Zacks, “Following an agreement to receive the remaining guaranteed payments worth $3.2 billion for the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia from Toshiba by Dec 15, we are taking a bullish stance on Southern Company. While providing substantial support and encouragement in the completion of the troubled nuclear project, the aid will help the utility reduce its financing costs. As it is, SO is one of the largest and best-managed electric utilities 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. Therefore, we see SO as an attractive investment.”
  • 12/8/2017 – Southern had its “buy” rating reaffirmed by analysts at Mizuho. They now have a $55.00 price target on the stock.
  • 11/3/2017 – Southern was upgraded by analysts at Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating. 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.”

Shares of Southern Co (NYSE SO) traded down $0.19 during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $48.09. 3,632,800 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 4,746,096. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73, a quick ratio of 0.57 and a current ratio of 0.73. The company has a market capitalization of $48,460.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 85.88, a PEG ratio of 3.62 and a beta of 0.13. Southern Co has a twelve month low of $46.71 and a twelve month high of $53.51.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, November 1st. The utilities provider reported $1.12 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.08 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $6.20 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $6.16 billion. Southern had a net margin of 2.59% and a return on equity of 10.81%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $1.27 earnings per share. equities analysts predict that Southern Co will post 2.96 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, December 6th. Stockholders of record on Monday, November 20th were given a $0.58 dividend. This represents a $2.32 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 4.82%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, November 17th. Southern’s dividend payout ratio is presently 414.29%.

In related news, insider Ann P. Daiss sold 5,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, October 20th. The shares were sold at an average price of $52.28, for a total transaction of $261,400.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 7,394 shares in the company, valued at $386,558.32. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 46,641 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.00, for a total transaction of $2,471,973.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 56,799 shares in the company, valued at $3,010,347. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 213,813 shares of company stock worth $11,029,988. 0.74% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

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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