Southern (NYSE: SO) reported earnings on Jan. 25. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), Southern missed on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue dropped slightly, and earnings per share improved significantly.

Margins grew across the board.

Revenue details
Southern booked revenue of $3.7 billion. The five analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ expected to see revenue of $4.0 billion. Sales were 2.0% lower than the prior-year quarter's $3.8 billion.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions.

EPS details
EPS came in at $0.30. The 17 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ predicted $0.30 per share. GAAP EPS of $0.30 for Q4 were 69% higher than the prior-year quarter's $0.18 per share.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Figures may be non-GAAP to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 33.6%, 560 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 15.9%, 340 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 7.5%, 340 basis points better than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $4.1 billion. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $0.53.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $18.8 billion. The average EPS estimate is $2.69.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a five-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 1,003 members out of 1,052 rating the stock outperform, and 49 members rating it underperform. Among 327 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 320 give Southern a green thumbs-up, and seven give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on Southern is hold, with an average price target of $43.59.

Can your retirement portfolio provide you with enough income to last? You'll need more than Southern. Learn about crafting a smarter retirement plan in "The Shocking Can't-Miss Truth About Your Retirement." Click here for instant access to this free report.

Seth Jayson owned shares of the following at the time of publication: Southern. You can view his stock holdings here. He is co-advisor of Motley Fool Hidden Gems, which provides new small-cap ideas every month, backed by a real-money portfolio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Southern. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.