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The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) was downgraded by equities research analysts at Morgan Stanley to an “underweight” rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday.

The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) opened at 43.22 on Wednesday. The Southern Company has a 52-week low of $40.03 and a 52-week high of $46.81. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $44.23 and its 200-day moving average is $43.55. The company has a market cap of $38.712 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.20. The Southern Company also was the recipient of a significant growth in short interest in July. As of July 31st, there was short interest totalling 47,918,924 shares, a growth of 20.3% from the July 15th total of 39,849,134 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 4,614,188 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 10.4 days. Approximately 5.4% of the company’s stock are sold short.

The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 30th. The company reported $0.68 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.66 by $0.02. The company had revenue of $4.47 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $4.32 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.66 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.2% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts expect that The Southern Company will post $2.79 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which is scheduled for Saturday, September 6th. Investors of record on Monday, August 4th will be paid a dividend of $0.525 per share. This represents a $2.10 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.86%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, July 31st.

Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. Analysts at SunTrust reiterated a “neutral” rating on shares of The Southern Company in a research note on Monday, August 4th. They now have a $43.00 price target on the stock, down previously from $44.00. Separately, analysts at Citigroup Inc. reiterated a “neutral” rating on shares of The Southern Company in a research note on Wednesday, July 23rd. They now have a $47.00 price target on the stock, up previously from $43.00. Finally, analysts at Jefferies Group reiterated a “hold” rating on shares of The Southern Company in a research note on Tuesday, July 15th. They now have a $46.00 price target on the stock, down previously from $47.00. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have given a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $44.55.

The Southern Company (NYSE:SO)is a holding company, which owns all of the common stock of the traditional operating companies, including Alabama Power Company (Alabama Power), Georgia Power Company (Georgia Power), Gulf Power Company (Gulf Power), and Mississippi Power Company (Mississippi Power) ,and Southern Power Company (Southern Power), and other direct and indirect subsidiaries (together, the Southern Company system).

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