Power supplier Southern Company SO reported fourth-quarter 2018 earnings per share (excluding certain one-time items) of 25 cents, a penny above the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The outperformance stemmed from favorable regulatory results and strength of its retail unit.
However, Southern Company's bottom line witnessed a fall from the year-ago quarter's profit of 51 cents on lower sales from the wholesale segment.
The Atlanta-based utility's quarterly revenue - at $5.3 billion - came 5.2% lower than the fourth-quarter 2017 sales but beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4.9 billion.
Southern Company (The) Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Southern Company (The) Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | Southern Company (The) Quote
Overall Sales Breakup
Southern Company's wholesale power sales decreased 5.3%. This was partially offset by the marginal rise in retail electricity demand amid favorable weather conditions and constructive regulatory results.
Consequently, there was a downward movement in overall electricity sales and usage. In fact, total electricity sales during the fourth quarter was down 0.8% from the same period last year.
Southern Company's total retail sales improved 0.7%, with residential and commercial sales going up by 3.7% and 0.1%, respectively. However, industrial sales declined 1.4%.
The power supplier's operations and maintenance cost increased 2% to $1.7 billion, while the utility's total operating expense for the period - at $4.8 billion - was down 3% 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, one can also look at another player in the space - Ameren Corporation AEE that also sports a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .
Ameren boasts of a good earnings surprise history. It has a 75% track of outperforming estimates over the last four quarters at an average rate of 8.6%.
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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 Southern Company (The) (SO): Free Stock Analysis Report Ameren Corporation (AEE): Free Stock Analysis Report Exelon Corporation (EXC): Free Stock Analysis Report Duke Energy Corporation (DUK): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research