Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Friday.

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.”

Other analysts have also recently issued reports about the company. Guggenheim upgraded Southern Company (The) from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and raised their target price for the company from $49.00 to $56.00 in a research report on Thursday, September 14th. Citigroup Inc. reaffirmed a “sell” rating and set a $44.00 price target (up from $43.00) on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research note on Tuesday, October 3rd. BidaskClub raised Southern Company (The) from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Monday, July 24th. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $55.00 price target on shares of Southern Company (The) in a research note on Wednesday, July 19th. Finally, Mizuho raised Southern Company (The) from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $53.00 price target for the company in a research note on Tuesday, September 5th. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the company. Southern Company (The) currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $49.72.

Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, November 1st. The utilities provider reported $1.12 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.08 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $6.20 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $6.16 billion. Southern Company (The) had a return on equity of 10.83% and a net margin of 2.59%. Southern Company (The)’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $1.27 earnings per share.

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In other news, insider Ann P. Daiss sold 5,000 shares of Southern Company (The) stock in a transaction that occurred 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 sale, the insider now owns 7,394 shares in the company, valued at $386,558.32. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, CEO William P. Bowers sold 85,151 shares of Southern Company (The) stock in a transaction on Tuesday, October 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $50.00, for a total transaction of $4,257,550.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 162,092 shares of company stock worth $8,287,353 over the last three months. 1.00% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of SO. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Southern Company (The) during the second quarter valued at $100,000. Acropolis Investment Management LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Southern Company (The) during the third quarter valued at $101,000. Orrstown Financial Services Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Southern Company (The) by 10.8% in the first quarter. Orrstown Financial Services Inc. now owns 2,050 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $102,000 after acquiring an additional 200 shares in the last quarter. Symmetry Partners LLC bought a new stake in shares of Southern Company (The) in the first quarter valued at about $103,000. Finally, CWM LLC raised its holdings in Southern Company (The) by 229.9% in the third quarter. CWM LLC now owns 2,039 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $105,000 after purchasing an additional 1,421 shares in the last quarter. 53.14% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Southern Company (The) Company Profile

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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