3 Stocks With Higher Trading Action Following Earnings

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Southern Company (NYSE:SO) from reporting a profit boost in the fourth quarter. Net income for Southern Company rose to $261 million (30 cents per share) vs. $153 million (18 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This marks a rise of 70.6% from the year earlier quarter. Revenue fell 2% to $3.7 billion from the year earlier quarter. SO beat the mean analyst estimate of 29 cents per share. It fell short of the average revenue estimate of $4.01 billion.

“In a year filled with challenges, our employees continued to deliver results on behalf of the customers and communities we serve,” said Thomas A. Fanning, Southern Company chairman, president and chief executive officer. “They are helping to fulfill Southern Company’s $20 billion commitment to build the energy future of the Southeast, a process that is expected to grow more than 250,000 jobs, according to analysis by the University of West Georgia.”

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).

Noble Corporation (NYSE:NE) reported its results for the fourth quarter. Net income for the oil and gas drilling and exploration company rose to $127 million (50 cents per share) vs. $98.8 million (39 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This marks a rise of 28.6% from the year earlier quarter. Revenue rose 16.7% to $751 million from the year earlier quarter. NE fell short of the mean analyst estimate of 53 cents per share. It fell short of the average revenue estimate of $776 million.

“During the fourth quarter, we continued to make progress in our newbuild program, with two more of our ultra-deepwater drillships, the Noble Bully II and Noble Globetrotter I, departing shipyards, bringing to three the number of new technically advanced drillships scheduled to commence contracts during the first quarter of 2012,” said David W. Williams, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “These units, and the other five drillships and six high-specification jackup rigs currently under construction, are intended to enhance our competitive position and long-term revenue growth potential by equipping us to meet the most complex drilling needs of our customers. Also, improving industry activity allowed us to place several rigs back into active status in the quarter, including the semisubmersible Noble Paul Romano and jackup rigs Noble Gene House, Noble Joe Beall and Noble Dick Favor. From a backlog perspective, we added approximately $1 billion in contract commitments (net of backlog rolloff) during 2011, including over $840 million net in the fourth quarter of 2011, resulting in total contract backlog of $13.7 billion at December 31, 2011. Some of these contract awards allowed us to enter or enhance our presence in operating regions, such as Australia, the Mediterranean and Saudi Arabia, supporting our strategic objective of increased geographic diversification.”

Competitors to Watch: Noble Corporation (N0L), Transocean LTD (NYSE:RIG), Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. (NYSE:DO), Pride International, Inc. (NYSE:PDE), Hercules Offshore, Inc. (NASDAQ:HERO), ENSCO PLC (NYSE:ESV), Atwood Oceanics, Inc. (NYSE:ATW), Vantage Drilling Company (AMEX:VTG), Seahawk Drilling, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAWK), and Rowan Companies, Inc. (NYSE:RDC).

Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) from reporting a profit boost in the fourth quarter. Net income for the diversified utilities company rose to $606 million (91 cents per share) vs. $524 million (79 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This marks a rise of 15.6% from the year earlier quarter. Revenue fell 5.4% to $4.25 billion from the year earlier quarter. EXC reported adjusted net income of 82 cents per share. By that measure, the company fell short of mean estimate of 88 cents per share. It fell short of the average revenue estimate of $4.8 billion.

“Our full year 2011 operating earnings were within our guidance range, as well as above our original expectations for the year,” said John W. Rowe, Exelon’s chairman and CEO. “Despite the impact of adverse economic, market and weather conditions, we achieved our financial commitments and operational excellence across the company.”

Competitors to Watch: NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE), Entergy Corporation (NYSE:ETR), El Paso Electric Company (NYSE:EE), Constellation Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE:CEG), PPL Corporation (NYSE:PPL), ALLETE, Inc. (NYSE:ALE), FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE:FE), Integrys Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE:TEG), and Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL).

To contact the reporter on this story: Derek Hoffman at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com

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