Southern Co Stock Buy Recommendation Reiterated (SO)

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Southern (NYSE: SO) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of A+ . The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, expanding profit margins, growth in earnings per share, notable return on equity and increase in stock price during the past year. 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.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Electric Utilities industry average. The net income increased by 3.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $620.00 million to $639.00 million.
  • 37.50% is the gross profit margin for SOUTHERN CO which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 15.30% is above that of the industry average.
  • SOUTHERN CO's earnings per share improvement from the most recent quarter was slightly positive. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, SOUTHERN CO increased its bottom line by earning $2.55 versus $2.36 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.65 versus $2.55).
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Electric Utilities industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, SOUTHERN CO has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • SO, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 0.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 7.5%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.

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 $40.53 billion and is part of the utilities sector and utilities industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.5, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 0.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

You can view the full Southern Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

--Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings Staff.

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