Stock Traders Buy Large Volume of Southern Call Options (SO)

Southern Company (The) (NYSE:SO) was the target of unusually large options trading activity on Thursday. Stock investors bought 22,318 call options on the company. This is an increase of Infinity compared to the typical volume of 0 call options.

Southern (NYSE SO) traded down $0.78 during trading on Monday, reaching $50.33. 5,505,002 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 4,675,096. The stock has a market cap of $51,295.43, a PE ratio of 18.58, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.61 and a beta of 0.13. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73, a quick ratio of 0.57 and a current ratio of 0.73. Southern has a 12 month low of $46.23 and a 12 month high of $53.51.

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

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, December 6th. Stockholders of record on Monday, November 20th will be issued a $0.58 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, November 17th. This represents a $2.32 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.61%. Southern’s dividend payout ratio is currently 414.29%.

A number of equities analysts recently commented on the stock. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Southern from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, November 3rd. Bank of America reaffirmed an “underperform” rating and set a $51.00 price target on shares of Southern in a research note on Tuesday, October 24th. SunTrust Banks reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $52.00 price target on shares of Southern in a research note on Friday, October 20th. Citigroup reaffirmed a “sell” rating and set a $44.00 price target (up from $43.00) on shares of Southern in a research note on Tuesday, October 3rd. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada raised shares of Southern from a “sector perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and set a $53.00 price target for the company in a research note on Friday, September 29th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $49.72.

In other Southern news, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 46,641 shares of Southern stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $53.00, for a total value of $2,471,973.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 56,799 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,010,347. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, CEO William P. Bowers sold 85,151 shares of Southern stock in a transaction on Tuesday, October 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $50.00, for a total transaction of $4,257,550.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 213,813 shares of company stock valued at $11,029,988 over the last three months. Corporate insiders own 0.74% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in Southern by 3.3% during the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 71,053,604 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $3,402,047,000 after purchasing an additional 2,295,466 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its stake in Southern by 2,961.9% during the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 62,067,822 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $3,089,736,000 after purchasing an additional 60,040,696 shares in the last quarter. State Street Corp increased its stake in Southern by 1.1% during the 1st quarter. State Street Corp now owns 48,900,251 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $2,434,244,000 after purchasing an additional 515,397 shares in the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. increased its stake in Southern by 3.6% during the 2nd quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 22,379,839 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,071,547,000 after purchasing an additional 770,413 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Capital Research Global Investors increased its stake in Southern by 25.3% during the 2nd quarter. Capital Research Global Investors now owns 14,940,226 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $715,338,000 after purchasing an additional 3,015,226 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 53.78% of the company’s stock.

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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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