Southern (NYSE:SO) Reaches New 12-Month High Following Analyst Upgrade

Southern Co (NYSE:SO)’s share price reached a new 52-week high during mid-day trading on Monday after Citigroup raised their price target on the stock from $61.00 to $73.00. Citigroup currently has a neutral rating on the stock. Southern traded as high as $70.03 and last traded at $69.76, with a volume of 58359 shares. The stock had previously closed at $69.44.

Several other research analysts also recently weighed in on the company. Evercore ISI restated a “hold” rating and issued a $63.50 price target on shares of Southern in a research note on Sunday, December 15th. Morgan Stanley increased their target price on Southern from $58.00 to $60.00 and gave the company an “underweight” rating in a research report on Wednesday, January 22nd. Credit Suisse Group increased their target price on Southern from $60.00 to $64.00 and gave the company an “underperform” rating in a research report on Wednesday, December 18th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased their target price on Southern from $63.00 to $64.00 and gave the company an “underweight” rating in a research report on Wednesday, December 18th. Finally, SunTrust Banks increased their target price on Southern from $60.00 to $63.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, December 18th. Five research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company. Southern has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $62.79.

In other news, Pres. & CEO, Southern Nuclear Stephen E. Kuczynski sold 2,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, December 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.08, for a total transaction of $124,160.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 63,772 shares in the company, valued at $3,958,965.76. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, CEO Anthony L. Wilson sold 61,018 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, January 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.00, for a total value of $3,966,170.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 90,208 shares in the company, valued at approximately $5,863,520. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders sold 2,218,238 shares of company stock worth $139,737,603. Insiders own 0.88% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. CWM LLC boosted its holdings in Southern by 31.4% in the third quarter. CWM LLC now owns 402,808 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $24,881,000 after acquiring an additional 96,358 shares in the last quarter. Cahaba Wealth Management Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Southern by 3.5% during the third quarter. Cahaba Wealth Management Inc. now owns 98,450 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $6,081,000 after purchasing an additional 3,287 shares during the period. Eaton Vance Management lifted its holdings in shares of Southern by 9.4% during the second quarter. Eaton Vance Management now owns 141,343 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $7,813,000 after purchasing an additional 12,169 shares during the period. Northstar Investment Advisors LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Southern by 14.1% during the third quarter. Northstar Investment Advisors LLC now owns 160,919 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $9,375,000 after purchasing an additional 19,833 shares during the period. Finally, Daiwa Securities Group Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Southern by 8.3% during the third quarter. Daiwa Securities Group Inc. now owns 43,677 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,698,000 after purchasing an additional 3,331 shares during the period. 58.93% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.37, a current ratio of 0.94 and a quick ratio of 0.77. The stock has a market cap of $72.82 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.78, a P/E/G ratio of 4.87 and a beta of 0.15. The stock has a fifty day moving average of $63.75 and a 200 day moving average of $60.71.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, October 30th. The utilities provider reported $1.34 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.20. The company had revenue of $6 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $6.01 billion. Southern had a return on equity of 10.52% and a net margin of 21.02%. Southern’s quarterly revenue was down 2.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.14 earnings per share. As a group, equities analysts expect that Southern Co will post 3.09 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 6th. Investors of record on Tuesday, February 18th will be given a dividend of $0.62 per share. This represents a $2.48 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.57%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, February 14th. Southern’s dividend payout ratio is currently 80.78%.

About Southern (NYSE:SO)

The Southern Company, through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. It operates in four segments: Gas Distribution Operations, Gas Pipeline Investments, Wholesale Gas Services, and Gas Marketing Services. The company also constructs, acquires, owns, and manages power generation assets, including renewable energy facilities and sells electricity in the wholesale market; and distributes natural gas in Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee, as well as provides gas marketing services, wholesale gas services, and gas pipeline investments operations.

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