Head to Head Analysis: Southern (SO) vs. Idacorp (IDA)

Southern (NYSE: SO) and Idacorp (NYSE:IDA) are both utilities companies, but which is the superior investment? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their dividends, valuation, earnings, institutional ownership, analyst recommendations, risk and profitability.


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This table compares Southern and Idacorp’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Southern 3.82% 11.96% 2.74%
Idacorp 15.74% 9.59% 3.41%


Southern pays an annual dividend of $2.32 per share and has a dividend yield of 5.1%. Idacorp pays an annual dividend of $2.36 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.6%. Southern pays out 76.8% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Idacorp pays out 56.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Southern has raised its dividend for 16 consecutive years and Idacorp has raised its dividend for 6 consecutive years. Southern is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent recommendations for Southern and Idacorp, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Southern 6 4 6 0 2.00
Idacorp 1 2 0 0 1.67

Southern currently has a consensus price target of $48.61, indicating a potential upside of 7.49%. Idacorp has a consensus price target of $82.50, indicating a potential downside of 7.39%. Given Southern’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, research analysts plainly believe Southern is more favorable than Idacorp.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

56.4% of Southern shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 75.7% of Idacorp shares are held by institutional investors. 0.7% of Southern shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 0.7% of Idacorp shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Volatility & Risk

Southern has a beta of 0.02, meaning that its share price is 98% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Idacorp has a beta of 0.4, meaning that its share price is 60% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Southern and Idacorp’s top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Southern $23.03 billion 1.98 $880.00 million $3.02 14.97
Idacorp $1.35 billion 3.33 $212.41 million $4.21 21.16

Southern has higher revenue and earnings than Idacorp. Southern is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Idacorp, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.


Southern beats Idacorp on 9 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

Southern Company Profile

The Southern Company, through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. The company also constructs, acquires, owns, and manages power generation assets, including renewable energy facilities and sells electricity in the wholesale market; and distributes natural gas in Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, Tennessee, and Maryland, as well as provides gas marketing services, wholesale gas services, and gas midstream operations. It owns and/or operates 33 hydroelectric generating stations, 29 fossil fuel generating stations, 3 nuclear generating stations, 15 combined cycle/cogeneration stations, 35 solar facilities, 8 wind facilities, 1 biomass facility, and 1 landfill gas facility; and constructs, operates, and maintains 82,000 miles of natural gas pipelines and 14 storage facilities with total capacity of 158 Bcf to provide natural gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The company has 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity and 1,500 billion cubic feet of combined natural gas consumption and throughput volume serving 9 million electric and gas utility customers. It also provides products and services in the areas of distributed generation infrastructure, energy efficiency, and utility infrastructure. In addition, the company offers digital wireless communications services with various communication options, including push to talk, cellular service, text messaging, wireless Internet access, and wireless data. The Southern Company was founded in 1945 and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Idacorp Company Profile

IDACORP, Inc., through its subsidiary, Idaho Power Company, engages in the generation, transmission, distribution, purchase, and sale of electric energy in the United States. It operates 17 hydroelectric generating plants located in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon, as well as 3 natural gas-fired plants in southern Idaho; and owns interests in 3 coal-fired steam electric generating plants located in Wyoming, Nevada, and Oregon. As of December 31, 2017, the company provided electric service to approximately 545,000 general business customers; and had a network of approximately 4,857 pole-miles of high-voltage transmission lines, 24 step-up transmission substations located at power plants, 24 transmission substations, 10 switching stations, and 223 energized distribution substations, as well as approximately 27,441 pole-miles of distribution lines. Its principal commercial and industrial customers are involved in food processing, electronics and general manufacturing, agriculture, health care, and winter recreation activities. The company, through its other subsidiaries, invests in housing and other real estate investments. IDACORP, Inc. was founded in 1915 and is headquartered in Boise, Idaho.

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