Southern (NYSE:SO) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday. The brokerage presently has a $57.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective suggests a potential upside of 10.29% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Following an agreement to receive the remaining guaranteed payments worth $3.2 billion for the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia from Toshiba by Dec 15, we are taking a bullish stance on Southern Company. While providing substantial support and encouragement in the completion of the troubled nuclear project, the aid will help the utility reduce its financing costs. As it is, SO is one of the largest and best-managed electric utilities 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. Therefore, we see SO as an attractive investment.”

Other research analysts have also issued research reports about the company. Mizuho reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $55.00 price objective on shares of Southern in a research report on Friday. Guggenheim raised 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 reaffirmed 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. KeyCorp reaffirmed a “hold” rating on shares of Southern in a research report on Friday, September 1st. Finally, BidaskClub raised Southern from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, August 22nd. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Southern currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $49.92.

Southern (NYSE SO) traded up $0.62 on Tuesday, hitting $51.68. The stock had a trading volume of 5,095,300 shares, compared to its average volume of 4,686,728. The stock has a market cap of $51,245.25, a PE ratio of 18.57, a PEG ratio of 3.84 and a beta of 0.13. The company has a current ratio of 0.73, a quick ratio of 0.57 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73. Southern has a 52 week low of $46.71 and a 52 week high of $53.51.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, November 1st. The utilities provider reported $1.12 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.08 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $6.20 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $6.16 billion. Southern had a return on equity of 10.81% and a net margin of 2.59%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $1.27 EPS. sell-side analysts predict that Southern will post 2.95 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, insider Ann P. Daiss sold 5,080 shares of Southern 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 of the company’s stock, valued at $398,214.72. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 46,641 shares of Southern stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.00, for a total value of $2,471,973.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 56,799 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,010,347. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 213,813 shares of company stock valued at $11,029,988. Corporate insiders own 0.74% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Captrust Financial Advisors purchased a new position in Southern during the second quarter valued at $854,000. Fiera Capital Corp lifted its position in Southern by 4.3% during the second quarter. Fiera Capital Corp now owns 34,294 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,642,000 after purchasing an additional 1,399 shares in the last quarter. Jackson Grant Investment Advisers Inc. lifted its position in Southern by 1.2% during the second quarter. Jackson Grant Investment Advisers Inc. now owns 3,317 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $159,000 after purchasing an additional 38 shares in the last quarter. Pathstone Family Office LLC purchased a new position in Southern during the first quarter valued at $170,000. Finally, Epoch Investment Partners Inc. lifted its position in Southern by 5.0% during the first quarter. Epoch Investment Partners Inc. now owns 3,249,597 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $161,765,000 after purchasing an additional 154,093 shares in the last quarter. 53.78% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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Southern 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 (NYSE:SO)

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