Electric utility firm
) reported fourth quarter 2013 earnings per share (excluding
certain one-time charges) of 48 cents, surpassing the Zacks
Consensus Estimate of 46 cents and the year-ago adjusted profit
of 44 cents. The strong results could be attributed to higher
electricity usage on the back of favorable weather conditions, as
well as stronger industrial activity. These positives were
partially offset by spiraling expenses.
DUKE ENERGY CP (DUK): Free Stock Analysis
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NATL GRID -ADR (NGG): Free Stock Analysis
SOUTHERN CO (SO): Free Stock Analysis Report
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The Atlanta, GA-based power supplier's quarterly revenue - at
$3,927.0 million - surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of
$3,854.0 million. Moreover, Southern Company's revenue came 6.1%
higher than the fourth quarter 2012 level of $3,703.0 million.
For its fiscal year ended Dec 31, 2013, Southern Company reported
income (excluding the impact of special items) of $2.71 per
share, above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.69 and the 2012
earnings of $2.68 per share. Revenues of $17,087.0 million were
3.3% above the year ago period and also managed to beat the Zacks
Consensus Estimate of $17,027.0 million.
Overall Sales Breakup
Milder-than-normal temperatures boosted Southern Company's
electricity demand. This brought about an upward movement in
overall electricity sales and usage. Total electricity sales
during the fourth quarter improved 3.4% from the same period last
Southern Company's total retail sales rose by 3.9%, reflecting
higher demand from residential customers, which increased by
6.0%. Commercial sales registered a year-over-year upward
movement of 1.4%.
In particular, industrial sales were up by a healthy 4.8%,
lifting Southern Company's fourth quarter results. With
approximately a third of the company's total retail sales coming
from industrial customers, direction of the economy significantly
affects the fortunes of Southern Company, as compared to other
utilities that are less dependent on the industrial component.
Southern Company's operations and maintenance cost increased 3.5%
to $1,008.0 million, while the company's total operating expense
for the period - at $3,128.0 million - was approximately 8.3%
higher than 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
Duke Energy Corp.
) - currently retains a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell), implying that
it is expected to underperform the broader U.S. equity market
over the next one to three months.
Meanwhile, one can look at
National Grid plc
) as a good buying opportunity. This electric utility stock -
sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) - offers tremendous value
and is worth buying now.