HM Payson & Co. lessened its holdings in The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) by 4.5% during the fourth quarter, according to the company in its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The fund owned 13,333 shares of the utilities provider’s stock after selling 627 shares during the period. HM Payson & Co.’s holdings in The Southern were worth $819,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.
A number of other institutional investors have also added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Price T Rowe Associates Inc. MD grew its position in The Southern by 5.3% in the fourth quarter. Price T Rowe Associates Inc. MD now owns 38,967,662 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $2,393,783,000 after acquiring an additional 1,958,409 shares during the last quarter. FMR LLC grew its position in The Southern by 19.0% in the fourth quarter. FMR LLC now owns 19,750,251 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,213,258,000 after acquiring an additional 3,154,842 shares during the last quarter. Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc. boosted its stake in shares of The Southern by 1.1% during the fourth quarter. Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc. now owns 4,664,133 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $286,518,000 after purchasing an additional 51,687 shares in the last quarter. Morgan Stanley boosted its stake in shares of The Southern by 35.7% during the fourth quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 4,575,706 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $281,086,000 after purchasing an additional 1,202,647 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Norges Bank acquired a new stake in shares of The Southern during the fourth quarter valued at about $247,302,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 57.62% of the company’s stock.
NYSE SO opened at $62.80 on Thursday. The company has a market cap of $66.36 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.93, a P/E/G ratio of 3.56 and a beta of 0.39. The Southern Company has a 52 week low of $50.40 and a 52 week high of $64.93. The business has a 50 day moving average price of $59.90 and a 200-day moving average price of $59.70. The company has a quick ratio of 0.73, a current ratio of 0.90 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.40.
The Southern (NYSE:SO) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, February 17th. The utilities provider reported $0.47 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.42 by $0.05. The Southern had a return on equity of 10.08% and a net margin of 15.80%. The business had revenue of $5.12 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.07 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.27 earnings per share. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that The Southern Company will post 3.19 earnings per share for the current year.
The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, March 8th. Investors of record on Tuesday, February 16th were issued a dividend of $0.64 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, February 12th. This represents a $2.56 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.08%. The Southern’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 82.32%.
In related news, insider Ann P. Daiss sold 5,549 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, April 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.75, for a total transaction of $348,199.75. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 18,666 shares in the company, valued at $1,171,291.50. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, CEO Stephen E. Kuczynski sold 2,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, January 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.19, for a total value of $152,975.00. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 66,994 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $4,099,362.86. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 13,049 shares of company stock valued at $802,200 in the last quarter. 0.39% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.
SO has been the topic of a number of recent research reports. Credit Suisse Group raised The Southern from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating and lifted their price target for the company from $61.00 to $68.00 in a research note on Monday, March 1st. KeyCorp cut their price target on The Southern from $66.00 to $65.00 and set an “overweight” rating on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, January 12th. Bank of America raised The Southern from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $64.00 price objective on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, January 19th. Zacks Investment Research raised The Southern from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $63.00 price objective on the stock in a research note on Thursday, January 14th. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company lifted their target price on The Southern from $67.00 to $71.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a report on Wednesday, March 31st. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The Southern currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $64.60.
The Southern Profile
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 and battery energy storage 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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