Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a note issued to investors on Tuesday.

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 equities analysts have also weighed in on SO. Royal Bank Of Canada lowered their target price on Southern Company (The) from $54.00 to $53.00 and set a “sector perform” rating on the stock in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Macquarie raised Southern Company (The) from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating and set a $52.00 price target for the company in a research report on Monday, July 10th. Jefferies Group LLC reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $55.00 price target on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research report on Wednesday, July 19th. BidaskClub raised Southern Company (The) from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Monday, July 24th. Finally, Barclays PLC reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $54.00 price target on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research report on Tuesday, July 25th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $49.72.

Shares of Southern Company (SO) traded up 0.182% during trading on Tuesday, hitting $52.295. 2,363,655 shares of the stock traded hands. The company has a 50-day moving average of $49.98 and a 200-day moving average of $49.42. Southern Company has a 52 week low of $46.20 and a 52 week high of $52.35. The firm has a market cap of $52.27 billion, a P/E ratio of 86.012 and a beta of 0.13.

Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.73 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.71 by $0.02. Southern Company (The) had a return on equity of 11.30% and a net margin of 2.93%. The company had revenue of $5.43 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.23 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.74 earnings per share. Southern Company (The)’s revenue for the quarter was up 21.7% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts forecast that Southern Company will post $2.95 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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In other Southern Company (The) news, CEO William P. Bowers sold 85,151 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, October 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $50.00, for a total value of $4,257,550.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 75,144 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $49.29, for a total value of $3,703,847.76. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 85,298 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $4,204,338.42. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.74% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Pathstone Family Office LLC bought a new position in shares of Southern Company (The) during the 1st quarter worth $170,000. Epoch Investment Partners Inc. grew its stake in shares of Southern Company (The) by 5.0% during the 1st quarter. Epoch Investment Partners Inc. now owns 3,249,597 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $161,765,000 after acquiring an additional 154,093 shares during the period. Pennsylvania Trust Co grew its stake in shares of Southern Company (The) by 38.2% during the 2nd quarter. Pennsylvania Trust Co now owns 33,700 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $1,614,000 after acquiring an additional 9,314 shares during the period. Cornerstone Capital Inc. grew its stake in shares of Southern Company (The) by 1.7% during the 2nd quarter. Cornerstone Capital Inc. now owns 144,546 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $6,921,000 after acquiring an additional 2,460 shares during the period. Finally, First National Bank of Omaha grew its stake in shares of Southern Company (The) by 0.5% during the 2nd quarter. First National Bank of Omaha now owns 15,070 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $721,000 after acquiring an additional 70 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 53.27% of the company’s stock.

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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Analyst Recommendations for Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO)

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