Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) saw unusually large options trading on Monday. Investors bought 12,897 put options on the company. This is an increase of 3,149% compared to the average volume of 397 put options.

Southern (SO) opened at $50.89 on Thursday. The company has a market capitalization of $50,780.00, a PE ratio of 18.30, a P/E/G ratio of 4.54 and a beta of 0.13. Southern has a 12-month low of $46.58 and a 12-month high of $53.51. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73, a current ratio of 0.73 and a quick ratio of 0.57.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, November 1st. The utilities provider reported $1.12 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.08 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $6.20 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $6.16 billion. Southern had a return on equity of 10.81% and a net margin of 2.59%. The firm’s revenue was down 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $1.27 earnings per share. analysts expect that Southern will post 2.95 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, December 6th. Shareholders of record on Monday, November 20th were paid a $0.58 dividend. This represents a $2.32 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.56%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, November 17th. Southern’s payout ratio is currently 414.29%.

SO has been the subject of a number of research analyst reports. Guggenheim upgraded Southern from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and raised their price objective for the company from $49.00 to $56.00 in a research report on Thursday, September 14th. Jefferies Group restated a “buy” rating and set a $56.00 price objective (up previously from $55.00) on shares of Southern in a research report on Tuesday, September 12th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Southern from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $56.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Tuesday, October 10th. Mizuho upgraded Southern from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $53.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Tuesday, September 5th. Finally, KeyCorp restated a “hold” rating on shares of Southern in a research report on Friday, September 1st. Three investment 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’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $49.72.

In other Southern news, insider Ann P. Daiss sold 5,080 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, November 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.28, for a total value of $270,662.40. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 7,474 shares in the company, valued at approximately $398,214.72. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, CEO William P. Bowers sold 85,151 shares of the 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 disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders sold 213,813 shares of company stock worth $11,029,988. 0.74% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in SO. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC bought a new stake in shares of Southern during the second quarter valued at approximately $100,000. Farmers & Merchants Trust Co of Chambersburg PA bought a new stake in shares of Southern during the third quarter valued at approximately $105,000. IHT Wealth Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Southern by 15.3% during the first quarter. IHT Wealth Management LLC now owns 2,281 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $115,000 after acquiring an additional 302 shares in the last quarter. Monroe Bank & Trust MI raised its stake in shares of Southern by 17.9% during the second quarter. Monroe Bank & Trust MI now owns 2,300 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $110,000 after acquiring an additional 350 shares in the last quarter. Finally, AlphaMark Advisors LLC raised its stake in shares of Southern by 0.6% during the second quarter. AlphaMark Advisors LLC now owns 2,363 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $113,000 after acquiring an additional 14 shares in the last quarter. 53.78% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Southern

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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