Power supplier Southern Company SO reported third-quarter 2019 earnings per share (excluding certain one-time items) of $1.34, surpassing both the Zacks Consensus Estimate and the year-ago profit of $1.14. The robust performance primarily stemmed from positive effects of rates and pricing changes, supported by favorable weather conditions at the Atlanta, GA-based firm’s regulated utilities.
Leveraging the demographics of its operating territories (as in healthy population and job growth), the firm has been able to consistently expand its regulated business customer base. As part of that plan, Southern Company has added 30,000 residential electric and 21,000 residential gas customers so far in 2019, underpinning growth.
The Atlanta-based utility’s quarterly revenues – at $6 billion – beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $5.9 billion but was 2.7% lower than the third-quarter 2018 sales on account of loss of revenue from asset dispositions.
Southern Company (The) Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Southern Company (The) price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Southern Company (The) Quote
Per Southern Company’s latest earnings presentation, it continues to progress toward completing the Units 3 and 4 of the Vogtle nuclear project by the November 2021 and November 2022 regulatory approved in-service dates. The utility also expects no change in the project’s total estimated costs.
Overall Sales Breakup
Southern Company’s wholesale power sales increased 2.3%. However, this was more than offset by a steep fall in retail electricity demand amid strategic sale of certain assets.
Consequently, there was a downward movement in overall electricity sales and usage. In fact, total electricity sales during the third quarter were down 4.7% from the same period last year.
Southern Company’s total retail sales decreased 6.7%, with residential and commercial sales going down by 6.6% and 6.7%, respectively. Moreover, industrial sales declined 6.8%.
The power supplier’s operations and maintenance cost decreased 8% to $1.3 billion, while the utility’s total operating expense for the period – at roughly $4 billion – was essentially unchanged from the prior-year level.
Zacks Rank & Stock Picks
Southern Company – one of the largest generators of electricity in the nation along with the likes of Exelon Corporation EXC and Duke Energy Corporation DUK – currently retains a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
Apart from Southern Company, investors interested in this space might look at Entergy Corporation ETR, which also carries a Zacks Rank of 2.
You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Today's Best Stocks from Zacks
Would you like to see the updated picks from our best market-beating strategies? From 2017 through 2018, while the S&P 500 gained +15.8%, five of our screens returned +38.0%, +61.3%, +61.6%, +68.1%, and +98.3%.
This outperformance has not just been a recent phenomenon. From 2000 – 2018, while the S&P averaged +4.8% per year, our top strategies averaged up to +56.2% per year.
See their latest picks free >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
Duke Energy Corporation (DUK) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Entergy Corporation (ETR) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Southern Company (The) (SO) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Exelon Corporation (EXC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.