Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday.
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 Toshiba’s financial guarantee to help complete 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.”
A number of other research firms have also recently weighed in on SO. BidaskClub cut Southern Company (The) from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a research note on Saturday, June 24th. Macquarie upgraded Southern Company (The) from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating and set a $52.00 price target on the stock in a research note on Monday, July 10th. Morgan Stanley cut their price target on Southern Company (The) from $53.00 to $51.00 and set an “underweight” rating on the stock in a research note on Friday, June 23rd. Jefferies Group LLC restated a “buy” rating and issued a $55.00 price target on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research note on Wednesday, July 19th. Finally, Barclays PLC restated a “buy” rating and issued a $55.00 price target on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research note on Monday, May 15th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and six have given a buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $49.14.
Southern Company (NYSE SO) opened at 49.56 on Monday. The firm has a market capitalization of $49.53 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 81.51 and a beta of 0.13. Southern Company has a 12 month low of $46.20 and a 12 month high of $53.73. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $48.55 and its 200 day moving average price is $49.47.
Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.73 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.71 by $0.02. The firm had revenue of $5.43 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.23 billion. Southern Company (The) had a return on equity of 11.30% and a net margin of 2.93%. Southern Company (The)’s revenue was up 21.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.74 earnings per share. Analysts predict that Southern Company will post $2.94 EPS for the current year.
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In other news, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 75,144 shares of Southern Company (The) stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $49.29, for a total transaction of $3,703,847.76. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 85,298 shares in the company, valued at $4,204,338.42. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. 0.74% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.
Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. W. E. Donoghue & Co. LLC purchased a new position in shares of Southern Company (The) during the second quarter worth about $15,030,000. Intl Fcstone Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Southern Company (The) by 88.9% during the second quarter. Intl Fcstone Inc. now owns 19,622 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $939,000 after buying an additional 9,232 shares during the last quarter. Griffin Asset Management Inc. purchased a new position in shares of Southern Company (The) during the second quarter worth about $1,703,000. Aldebaran Financial Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Southern Company (The) by 6.3% during the second quarter. Aldebaran Financial Inc. now owns 18,429 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $882,000 after buying an additional 1,100 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Farmers National Bank grew its holdings in shares of Southern Company (The) by 1.7% during the second quarter. Farmers National Bank now owns 60,236 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,884,000 after buying an additional 1,029 shares during the last quarter. 53.27% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.
About Southern Company (The)
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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