The Southern Company (NYSE: SO) stock fell -0.25% on Friday to $75.94 against a previous-day closing price of $76.13. With 2.82 million shares changed hands, the volume of the stock remained lighter than its average volume of 3.98 million shares. During the session, the Utilities – Regulated Electric company that operates in wider Utilities sector, reached to the highest price of $76.54 whereas the lowest price it dropped to was $75.55. The 52-week range on SO shows that it touched its highest point at $80.57 and its lowest point at $60.99 during that stretch. It currently has a 1-year price target of $76.44. With its current market cap of 80.77 billion, SO has annualized dividend of $2.72 while the current yield stands at 3.58%. Beta for the stock currently stands at 0.50.
Price Performance and Earnings:
Stock performance is one of the indicators that investors use to determine whether they will profit from a stock. The price performance of SO was down-trending over the past week, with a drop of -1.75%, but this was down by -3.62% over a month. Three-month performance surged to 9.61% while six-month performance rose 10.39%. The stock gained 19.38% in the past year, while it has gained 10.73% so far this year. A look at the trailing 12-month EPS for SO yields 2.83 with Next year EPS estimates of 3.80. For the next quarter, that number is 1.30. This implies an EPS growth rate of -23.50% for this year and 5.67% for next year. EPS is expected to grow by 6.59% annually over the next five years; however, over the past five years, the company experienced an annual growth rate of -2.60%.
Float and Shares Shorts:
At present, 1.06 billion SO shares are outstanding with a float of 1.06 billion shares on hand for trading. On Jul 14, 2022, short shares totaled 14.85 million, which was 1.40% higher than short shares on Jun 14, 2022. In addition to Mr. Thomas A. Fanning as the firm’s Chairman, Pres & CEO, Mr. Daniel S. Tucker serves as its Exec. VP & CFO.
Through their ownership of 62.96% of SO’s outstanding shares, institutional investors have majority control over the company. Other institutions hold 36.52% of SO, in contrast to 24.92% held by mutual funds. Shares owned by individuals account for 0.27%. As the largest shareholder in SO with 8.14% of the stake, The Vanguard Group, Inc. holds 88,541,306 shares worth 88,541,306. A second-largest stockholder of SO, SSgA Funds Management, Inc., holds 63,755,513 shares, controlling over 5.86% of the firm’s shares. T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. is the third largest shareholder in SO, holding 59,348,519 shares or 5.45% stake. With a 2.89% stake in SO, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index is the largest stakeholder. A total of 31,450,628 shares are owned by the mutual fund manager. The Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which owns about 2.18% of SO stock, is the second-largest Mutual Fund holder. It holds 23,713,655 shares valued at 1.83 billion. SPDR Series – Utilities Select Se holds 1.64% of the stake in SO, owning 17,867,274 shares worth 1.38 billion.
Reading analyst opinions is an effective way to decide where to invest, and there are several opinions available for SO since 18 analysts follow the stock currently. There are 4 analysts who recommend BUY ratings, while 4 suggest SELL ratings. Of the remaining analysts, 8 believe that the stock is worth HOLDING, 1 give it an OVERWEIGHT rating, and 1 thinks that it’s UNDERWEIGHT. In the same way, a target price assigned to a stock can also reveal much about its potential. With SO analysts setting a high price target of $93.00 and a low target of $61.00, the average target price over the next 12 months is $76.00. Based on these targets, SO could surge 22.47% to reach the target high and fall by -19.67% to reach the target low. Reaching the average price target will result in a growth of 0.08% from current levels.
EPS: Estimates vs Actual
It is also common to use earnings estimates to evaluate a firm’s growth potential and to determine trading strategy. SO will report FY 2022 earnings on 02/22/2023. Analysts have provided yearly estimates in a range of $3.74 being high and $3.54 being low. For SO, this leads to a yearly average estimate of $3.59. The earnings surprise of a firm occurs when the actual results change from the consensus earnings estimate. The Southern Company surprised analysts by $0.23 when it reported $1.07 EPS against a consensus estimate of $0.84. The surprise factor in the prior quarter was $0.06. Based on analyst estimates, the high estimate for the next quarter is $1.42 and the low estimate is $1.03. The average estimate for the next quarter is thus $1.30.
Summary of Insider Activity:
Insiders traded SO stock several times over the past three months with 3 Buys and 4 Sells. In these transactions, 54,000 shares were bought while 154,000 shares were sold. The number of buy transactions has increased to 73 while that of sell transactions has risen to 90 over the past year. The total number of shares bought during that period was 1,347,452 while 1,046,981 shares were sold.