Every investor in The Southern Company (NYSE:SO) should be aware of the most powerful shareholder groups. Generally speaking, as a company grows, institutions will increase their ownership. Conversely, insiders often decrease their ownership over time. Companies that used to be publicly owned tend to have lower insider ownership.
With a market capitalization of US$55b, Southern is rather large. We’d expect to see institutional investors on the register. Companies of this size are usually well known to retail investors, too. Taking a look at our data on the ownership groups (below), it’s seems that institutions are noticeable on the share registry. We can zoom in on the different ownership groups, to learn more about Southern.
What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Southern?
Institutions typically measure themselves against a benchmark when reporting to their own investors, so they often become more enthusiastic about a stock once it’s included in a major index. We would expect most companies to have some institutions on the register, especially if they are growing.
As you can see, institutional investors own 61% of Southern. This suggests some credibility amongst professional investors. But we can’t rely on that fact alone, since institutions make bad investments sometimes, just like everyone does. If multiple institutions change their view on a stock at the same time, you could see the share price drop fast. It’s therefore worth looking at Southern’s earnings history, below. Of course, the future is what really matters.
Institutional investors own over 50% of the company, so together than can probably strongly influence board decisions. We note that hedge funds don’t have a meaningful investment in Southern. Our data shows that The Vanguard Group, Inc. is the largest shareholder with 8.6% of shares outstanding. BlackRock, Inc. is the second largest shareholder with 7.3% of common stock, followed by State Street Global Advisors, Inc., holding 5.5% of the stock.
Our studies suggest that the top 25 shareholders collectively control less than 50% of the company’s shares, meaning that the company’s shares are widely disseminated and there is no dominant shareholder.
While studying institutional ownership for a company can add value to your research, it is also a good practice to research analyst recommendations to get a deeper understand of a stock’s expected performance. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.
Insider Ownership Of Southern
While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. Company management run the business, but the CEO will answer to the board, even if he or she is a member of it.
I generally consider insider ownership to be a good thing. However, on some occasions it makes it more difficult for other shareholders to hold the board accountable for decisions.
Our most recent data indicates that insiders own less than 1% of The Southern Company. It is a very large company, so it would be surprising to see insiders own a large proportion of the company. Though their holding amounts to less than 1%, we can see that board members collectively own US$95m worth of shares (at current prices). It is always good to see at least some insider ownership, but it might be worth checking if those insiders have been selling.
General Public Ownership
The general public holds a 39% stake in SO. While this size of ownership may not be enough to sway a policy decision in their favour, they can still make a collective impact on company policies.
While it is well worth considering the different groups that own a company, there are other factors that are even more important. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we’ve spotted 3 warning signs for Southern (of which 1 is concerning!) you should know about.
If you would prefer discover what analysts are predicting in terms of future growth, do not miss this free report on analyst forecasts.
NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.