We expect Southern Company (SO - Free Report) to beat expectations when it reports third-quarter 2018 results before the opening bell on Wednesday, Nov 7. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter under review is a profit of $1.07 per share on revenues of $6 billion.
In the preceding three-month period, the Atlanta, GA-based service provider beat the consensus mark by 15.9% on favorable regulatory results, strength of its retail unit and success of its Southern Power renewable portfolio.
As far as earnings surprises are concerned, the electric utility firm is on an excellent footing, having gone past the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the last four reports. This is depicted in the graph below:
Investors are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that the utility can continue winning ways by surpassing earnings estimate this time around too. Thankfully, our model indicates that Southern Company might beat on earnings in the third quarter.
Let’s delve deeper and find out the factors impacting the results.
Why a Likely Positive Surprise?
Our proven model shows that Southern Company is likely to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate this quarter as it has the right combination of two key ingredients. A stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) or higher for increasing the odds of an earnings beat.
You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.
Earnings ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is +0.37%. A favorable Zacks ESP serves as a meaningful and leading indicator of a likely positive earnings surprise.
Zacks Rank: Southern Company currently has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), which, when combined with a positive ESP, makes us confident of earnings beat.
You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Note that we caution against stocks with a Zacks Ranks #4 or 5 (Sell rated) going into an earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing a negative estimate revision.
What is Driving the Better-Than-Expected Earnings?
A leading utility holding entity in the U.S., Southern Company dominates the power business across the Southeast. With a strong rate base growth and constructive regulation, we expect the firm to generate steady earnings.
Also, with operations in a stable and growing industry, Southern Company has a steady stream of cash flow. The utility’s history of consistent dividend payments indicates its confidence in itself. In fact, management recently reiterated its long-term EPS growth rate guidance of approximate 5% growth in the next few years.
We further believe that the AGL Resources acquisition will be accretive to Southern Company earnings.
Other Stocks to Consider
Southern Company is not the only utility looking up this earnings season. Here are some firms from the space you may want to consider on the basis of our model, which shows that they have the right combination of elements to post earnings beat this quarter:
The AES Corporation (AES - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +1.43% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The utility is anticipated to release earnings on Nov 6.
Atmos Energy Corporation (ATO - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +7.14% and a Zacks Rank #3. The utility is anticipated to release earnings on Nov 7.
Sempra Energy (SRE - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +1.77% and a Zacks Rank #3. The utility is expected to release earnings on Nov 7.
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