Southern Co (SO): Today's Featured Utilities Winner

Southern ( SO) pushed the Utilities sector higher today making it today's featured utilities winner. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.4%. By the end of trading, Southern rose 29 cents (0.6%) to $46.83 on average volume. Throughout the day, 3.5 million shares of Southern exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 4.3 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $46.40-$46.86 after having opened the day at $46.43 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $46.54. Other companies within the Utilities sector that increased today were: Delta Natural Gas Company ( DGAS), up 3.7%, Ocean Power Technologies ( OPTT), up 3.5%, American States Water ( AWR), up 1.9%, and RGC Resources ( RGCO), up 1.6%.

The Southern Company operates as an electric utility company. It is involved in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity through coal, nuclear, oil and gas, and hydro resources. Southern has a market cap of $40.35 billion and is part of the utilities industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.6, below the average utilities industry P/E ratio of 18.8 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 0.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there is one analyst that rates Southern a buy, two analysts rate it a sell, and 13 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Southern as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value.

On the negative front, American DG Energy ( ADGE), down 10.1%, Ormat Technologies ( ORA), down 7.4%, Pure Cycle Corporation ( PCYO), down 5.5%, and Niska Gas Storage Partners ( NKA), down 4.2%, were all losers within the utilities sector with Duke Energy Corporation ( DUK) being today's utilities sector loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the utilities sector could consider Utilities Select Sector SPDR ( XLU) while those bearish on the utilities sector could consider ProShares UltraShort Utilities ( SDP).
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