Morgan Stanley Boosts Southern (NYSE:SO) Price Target to $68.00

Southern (NYSE:SOGet Rating) had its target price lifted by Morgan Stanley from $63.00 to $68.00 in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday, MarketBeat Ratings reports. The firm currently has an underweight rating on the utilities provider’s stock.

Other equities research analysts have also issued research reports about the company. Wells Fargo & Company upped their target price on Southern from $68.00 to $80.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a research report on Tuesday. Bank of America downgraded shares of Southern from a buy rating to a neutral rating and lowered their price target for the stock from $75.00 to $71.00 in a report on Monday, February 7th. UBS Group cut shares of Southern from a buy rating to a neutral rating in a report on Wednesday, January 5th. StockNews.com began coverage on Southern in a research note on Thursday, March 31st. They set a hold rating for the company. Finally, KeyCorp lifted their price target on Southern from $69.00 to $71.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research note on Thursday, January 13th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the company. Based on data from MarketBeat.com, Southern presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $73.44.

Shares of NYSE SO opened at $75.91 on Wednesday. The business’s 50 day moving average price is $70.00 and its 200 day moving average price is $66.89. The firm has a market cap of $80.48 billion, a P/E ratio of 33.59, a P/E/G ratio of 5.34 and a beta of 0.52. Southern has a 52 week low of $60.12 and a 52 week high of $77.24. The company has a quick ratio of 0.64, a current ratio of 0.82 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.55.

Southern (NYSE:SOGet Rating) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, February 17th. The utilities provider reported $0.36 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.35 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $5.77 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $4.75 billion. Southern had a return on equity of 11.02% and a net margin of 10.42%. Southern’s revenue for the quarter was up 12.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $0.47 earnings per share. As a group, research analysts expect that Southern will post 3.56 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, June 6th. Shareholders of record on Monday, May 16th will be paid a dividend of $0.68 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, May 13th. This represents a $2.72 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.58%. This is a positive change from Southern’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.66. Southern’s payout ratio is 116.81%.

In other news, CEO Stephen E. Kuczynski sold 2,500 shares of Southern stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, February 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $67.80, for a total transaction of $169,500.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Christopher Cummiskey sold 874 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, February 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.07, for a total value of $56,871.18. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 332,516 shares of company stock valued at $23,808,569. 0.43% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of SO. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS lifted its stake in Southern by 38.3% during the third quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS now owns 983,175 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $60,927,000 after purchasing an additional 272,410 shares in the last quarter. Liberty One Investment Management LLC lifted its stake in Southern by 4.4% during the 4th quarter. Liberty One Investment Management LLC now owns 357,557 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $24,521,000 after acquiring an additional 15,206 shares in the last quarter. Mawer Investment Management Ltd. boosted its holdings in Southern by 0.3% during the 3rd quarter. Mawer Investment Management Ltd. now owns 553,622 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $34,308,000 after acquiring an additional 1,878 shares during the period. Koshinski Asset Management Inc. grew its position in Southern by 20.0% in the 4th quarter. Koshinski Asset Management Inc. now owns 19,490 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,337,000 after acquiring an additional 3,253 shares in the last quarter. Finally, IVC Wealth Advisors LLC increased its stake in Southern by 3.4% during the fourth quarter. IVC Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 6,625 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $454,000 after purchasing an additional 216 shares during the period. 59.24% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Southern Company Profile (Get Rating)

The Southern Company, through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. It operates through Gas Distribution Operations, Gas Pipeline Investments, Wholesale Gas Services, and Gas Marketing Services segments. The company also develops, constructs, acquires, owns, and manages power generation assets, including renewable energy projects 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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