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 growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and revenue growth. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • SOUTHERN CO has improved earnings per share by 43.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. 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 $2.67 versus $2.55 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.75 versus $2.67).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Electric Utilities industry. The net income increased by 44.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $277.00 million to $399.00 million.
  • SO's revenue growth trails the industry average of 12.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for SOUTHERN CO is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 34.20%. Regardless of SO's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, SO's net profit margin of 10.77% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • In its most recent trading session, SO has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it is one of the factors that makes this stock an attractive investment.

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 $38.61 billion and is part of the utilities sector and utilities industry. Shares are up 3.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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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