Southern Company Fourth Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Southern Company (NYSE:SO) will unveil its latest earnings on Wednesday, January 25, 2012. Southern Company, through its operating companies, provides electric service in four Southeastern states.

Southern Company Earnings Preview Cheat Sheet.

Wall St. Earnings Expectations: The average estimate of analysts is for net income of 29 cents per share, a rise of 61.1% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved down from 32 cents. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved down. It also has dropped from 30 cents during the last month. For the year, analysts are projecting profit of $2.56 per share, a rise of 8% from last year.

Past Earnings Performance: The company has beaten estimates the last two quarters and is coming off a quarter where it topped the forecasts by 3 cents, reporting net income of $1.07 per share against a mean estimate of profit of $1.04. In the second quarter, the company exceeded forecasts by 7 cents with net income of 71 cents versus a mean estimate of profit of 64 cents.

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Wall St. Revenue Expectations: Analysts are projecting a rise of 6.4% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $4.01 billion.

Analyst Ratings: Analysts seem relatively indifferent about Southern Company with 14 of 18 analysts surveyed maintaining a hold rating.

A Look Back: In the third quarter, profit rose 11.9% to $933 million ($1.06 a share) from $833.4 million (97 cents a share) the year earlier, exceeding analyst expectations. Revenue rose 2% to $5.43 billion from $5.32 billion.

Key Stats:

The company has seen net income rise in two straight quarters. In the second quarter, profit rose 17.8%.

The company’s revenue has risen for two straight quarters. In the second quarter, the figure rose 7.5%.

Competitors to Watch: Entergy Corporation (NYSE:ETR), Progress Energy, Inc. (NYSE:PGN), Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE:DUK), SCANA Corporation (NYSE:SCG), NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE), TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE:TE), PPL Corporation (NYSE:PPL), Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE:D), American Electric Power Co., Inc. (NYSE:AEP), and FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE:FE).

Stock Price Performance: During November 18, 2011 to January 19, 2012, the stock price had risen $1.78 (4.1%) from $43.20 to $44.98. The stock price saw one of its best stretches over the last year between April 25, 2011 and May 4, 2011 when shares rose for eight-straight days, rising 3.8% (+$1.43) over that span. It saw one of its worst periods between May 19, 2011 and May 27, 2011 when shares fell for seven-straight days, falling 2.5% (-$1) over that span.

(Company fundamentals by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)

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