Ariel Investments LLC increased its position in shares of Southern Co (NYSE:SO) by 1.4% during the second quarter, HoldingsChannel.com reports. The fund owned 870,337 shares of the utilities provider’s stock after acquiring an additional 12,294 shares during the quarter. Ariel Investments LLC’s holdings in Southern were worth $40,305,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other hedge funds have also recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Verity Asset Management Inc. increased its stake in Southern by 142.4% in the 1st quarter. Verity Asset Management Inc. now owns 14,077 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $629,000 after buying an additional 8,270 shares during the period. Global X Management Co. LLC increased its stake in Southern by 7.3% in the 1st quarter. Global X Management Co. LLC now owns 204,337 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $9,126,000 after buying an additional 13,837 shares during the period. Rhumbline Advisers increased its stake in Southern by 0.7% in the 1st quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 1,817,682 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $81,178,000 after buying an additional 12,725 shares during the period. Biondo Investment Advisors LLC increased its stake in Southern by 3.8% in the 1st quarter. Biondo Investment Advisors LLC now owns 82,278 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $3,721,000 after buying an additional 3,002 shares during the period. Finally, Fulton Bank N.A. increased its stake in Southern by 15.4% in the 1st quarter. Fulton Bank N.A. now owns 42,477 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,897,000 after buying an additional 5,679 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 57.22% of the company’s stock.

SO stock opened at $44.33 on Wednesday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.68, a current ratio of 0.81 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.59. The company has a market capitalization of $45.67 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 14.68, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.37 and a beta of 0.04. Southern Co has a 12 month low of $42.38 and a 12 month high of $53.51.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, August 8th. The utilities provider reported $0.80 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.69 by $0.11. The company had revenue of $5.63 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.28 billion. Southern had a net margin of 9.96% and a return on equity of 13.06%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.73 earnings per share. equities research analysts predict that Southern Co will post 2.97 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, September 6th. Investors of record on Monday, August 20th will be issued a dividend of $0.60 per share. This represents a $2.40 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 5.41%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, August 17th. Southern’s dividend payout ratio is currently 79.47%.

Several research firms have weighed in on SO. Evercore ISI lowered shares of Southern from an “in-line” rating to an “underperform” rating in a research note on Thursday, August 9th. Credit Suisse Group lowered shares of Southern from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating and dropped their price objective for the company from $46.00 to $43.00 in a research note on Thursday, August 9th. Guggenheim downgraded shares of Southern from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and decreased their target price for the stock from $50.00 to $47.00 in a research report on Wednesday, August 8th. Scotiabank reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $44.00 target price on shares of Southern in a research report on Thursday, August 9th. Finally, Bank of America decreased their target price on shares of Southern from $47.00 to $46.00 and set an “underperform” rating for the company in a research report on Wednesday, August 22nd. Eight analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have assigned a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $47.66.

In related news, EVP Christopher C. Womack sold 16,371 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $47.40, for a total transaction of $775,985.40. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 10,165 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $481,821. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. 0.73% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Southern Profile

The Southern Co is a holding company, which engages in the sale of electricity. It operates through the following segments: Traditional Electric Operating Companies, Southern Power, Southern Company Gas, and All Other. The Traditional Electric Operating Companies segment refers to vertically integrated utilities that own generation, transmission and distribution facilities, and supplies electric services in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi.

Further Reading: Should I invest in “strong buy” stocks?

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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Southern (NYSE:SO)

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