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Why Is Southern Company (SO) Down 3.3% Since Its Last Earnings Report?

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It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Southern Company (SO - Free Report) . Shares have lost about 3.3% in that time frame.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is SO due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

First-Quarter 2018 Results

Southern Company reported first-quarter 2018 earnings per share (excluding certain one-time items) of 88 cents, above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 84 cents and the year-ago profit of 66 cents. The outperformance stemmed from strength of its retail unit.

The Atlanta-based utility’s quarterly revenue – at $6,372 million – came 10.4% higher than the first-quarter 2017 sales of $5,771 million and also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $5,701 million.

Overall Sales Breakup

Southern Company’s wholesale power sales jumped 16.5%, while retail electricity demand strengthened amid favorable weather conditions. This brought about an upward movement in overall electricity sales and usage. In fact, total electricity sales during the first quarter was up 10.1% from the same period last year.

Southern Company’s total retail sales surged 8.1%, with residential, industrial and commercial sales up by 18.8%, 4.4% and 2.6%, respectively.

Expenses Summary

The power supplier’s operations and maintenance cost increased 4.9% to $1,451 million, while the utility’s total operating expense for the period – at $4,996 million – was up 10.6% from the prior-year level.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed an upward trend in fresh estimates. There have been three revisions higher for the current quarter

VGM Scores

At this time, SO has a nice Growth Score of B and a grade with the same score on the momentum front. The stock was allocated a grade of C on the value side, putting it in the middle 20% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of B. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Based on our scores, the stock is equally suitable for growth and momentum investors while value investors may want to look elsewhere.

Outlook

Estimates have been trending upward for the stock and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. Interestingly, SO has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.




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