Zacks: Analysts Expect Southern Co (NYSE:SO) to Post $0.34 Earnings Per Share

Wall Street brokerages expect Southern Co (NYSE:SO) to announce $0.34 earnings per share (EPS) for the current quarter, Zacks Investment Research reports. Two analysts have made estimates for Southern’s earnings, with the lowest EPS estimate coming in at $0.26 and the highest estimate coming in at $0.44. Southern reported earnings per share of $0.25 during the same quarter last year, which suggests a positive year over year growth rate of 36%. The company is scheduled to report its next quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, February 19th.

On average, analysts expect that Southern will report full year earnings of $3.09 per share for the current fiscal year, with EPS estimates ranging from $3.04 to $3.12. For the next year, analysts anticipate that the company will post earnings of $3.18 per share, with EPS estimates ranging from $3.13 to $3.25. Zacks’ EPS calculations are a mean average based on a survey of sell-side research firms that follow Southern.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, October 30th. The utilities provider reported $1.34 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.14 by $0.20. The company had revenue of $6 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $6.01 billion. Southern had a net margin of 21.02% and a return on equity of 10.52%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was down 2.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $1.14 earnings per share.

A number of equities analysts have commented on the company. Bank of America raised their price objective on Southern from $60.00 to $64.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a research note on Thursday, September 12th. Evercore ISI reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $63.50 target price on shares of Southern in a research report on Thursday, November 28th. SunTrust Banks set a $59.00 target price on Southern and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Tuesday, September 3rd. Morgan Stanley decreased their price target on Southern from $55.00 to $54.00 and set an “underweight” rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, August 16th. Finally, UBS Group boosted their price target on Southern from $58.00 to $62.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research note on Friday, September 6th. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and eleven have issued a hold rating to the company’s stock. Southern presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $56.41.

NYSE:SO traded down $0.62 during trading hours on Tuesday, reaching $62.14. 3,474,007 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 4,112,822. The company has a market capitalization of $65.82 billion, a P/E ratio of 20.24, a P/E/G ratio of 4.51 and a beta of 0.14. Southern has a 1-year low of $42.50 and a 1-year high of $63.29. 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 business has a 50 day moving average of $61.89 and a 200 day moving average of $58.53.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 6th. Shareholders of record on Monday, November 18th were given a dividend of $0.62 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, November 15th. This represents a $2.48 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.99%. Southern’s dividend payout ratio is currently 80.78%.

In other news, CFO Stan W. Connally sold 4,755 shares of Southern stock in a transaction on Wednesday, December 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $16.76, for a total value of $79,693.80. Also, CEO Stephen E. Kuczynski sold 123,533 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, October 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.87, for a total value of $7,642,986.71. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 191,305 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $11,836,040.35. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders have sold 157,288 shares of company stock valued at $9,525,281. Company insiders own 0.88% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its position in Southern by 3.4% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 88,169,680 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $4,874,020,000 after acquiring an additional 2,923,497 shares during the last quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. boosted its stake in shares of Southern by 449.2% in the 2nd quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. now owns 3,322,449 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $183,665,000 after purchasing an additional 2,717,467 shares in the last quarter. Zimmer Partners LP boosted its stake in shares of Southern by 126.5% in the 3rd quarter. Zimmer Partners LP now owns 2,704,340 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $167,047,000 after purchasing an additional 1,510,340 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Southern by 2.2% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 70,040,340 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $3,871,830,000 after purchasing an additional 1,479,813 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Invesco Ltd. grew its holdings in shares of Southern by 22.4% during the 2nd quarter. Invesco Ltd. now owns 7,200,728 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $398,057,000 after purchasing an additional 1,319,096 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 58.99% of the company’s stock.

About Southern

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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