Southern Co. (NYSE:SO) gapped up before the market opened on Friday . The stock had previously closed at $52.25, but opened at $52.32. Southern shares last traded at $52.47, with a volume of 1,627,137 shares traded.

A number of brokerages have recently issued reports on SO. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a “hold” rating on shares of Southern in a research report on Thursday, April 28th. Howard Weil assumed coverage on Southern in a research report on Friday, May 13th. They set a “sector perform” rating and a $52.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research lowered Southern from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, May 11th. Mizuho upped their price target on Southern from $50.00 to $52.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research report on Tuesday, July 12th. Finally, Argus reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Southern in a research report on Wednesday, June 15th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $52.32.

The stock has a 50 day moving average of $53.32 and a 200-day moving average of $50.63. The company has a market capitalization of $49.31 billion and a P/E ratio of 20.51.

Southern (NYSE:SO) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.74 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.70 by $0.04. The firm earned $4.45 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $4.54 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $0.71 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.7% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts expect that Southern Co. will post $2.87 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, September 6th. Shareholders of record on Monday, August 15th will be paid a $0.56 dividend. This represents a $2.24 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 4.28%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, August 11th.

In other Southern news, insider Ann P. Daiss sold 7,000 shares of Southern stock in a transaction dated Monday, June 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $52.28, for a total value of $365,960.00. Following the sale, the insider now owns 9,394 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $491,118.32. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, CEO Stan W. Connally sold 14,392 shares of Southern stock in a transaction dated Monday, August 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $53.75, for a total value of $773,570.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 17,716 shares in the company, valued at approximately $952,235. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Morningstar Investment Services LLC increased its stake in Southern by 7.2% in the fourth quarter. Morningstar Investment Services LLC now owns 691,509 shares of the company’s stock valued at $32,356,000 after buying an additional 46,235 shares in the last quarter. Home Federal Bank of Tennessee bought a new stake in Southern during the fourth quarter worth about $1,032,000. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its stake in Southern by 6.8% in the fourth quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 1,348,173 shares of the company’s stock worth $63,087,000 after buying an additional 86,034 shares in the last quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA increased its stake in Southern by 88.6% in the fourth quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 360,661 shares of the company’s stock worth $16,875,000 after buying an additional 169,454 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Stephens Inc. AR increased its stake in Southern by 5.7% in the fourth quarter. Stephens Inc. AR now owns 156,360 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,316,000 after buying an additional 8,402 shares in the last quarter.

The Southern Company (Southern Company) is a holding company. The Company owns all of the stock of the traditional operating companies and Southern Power Company (Southern Power), and owns other direct and indirect subsidiaries. Southern Company’s segments include the sale of electricity by four traditional operating companies, Southern Power and All Other.

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