Company raises dividend, reports increased earnings

The directors of The Southern Company today raised the quarterly dividend on the company`s common stock to 31½ cents a share, an increase of 1 cent per share over the previous quarterly rate. The dividend is payable March 6, 1996, to shareholders of record Feb. 5.

This dividend increase is the company`s fifth in as many years. The new quarterly dividend is equivalent to an annual rate of $1.26 per share.

“The increase reflects our strong growth in 1995 and the confidence we have in 1996 as we enter a period of profound change and increasing competition in our business,” said A.W. Dahlberg, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

The Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the parent firm of five electric utilities: Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Other subsidiaries include Southern Electric International, Southern Nuclear, Southern Development and Investment Group, Southern Communications Services and Southern Company Services. The Southern Company`s common stock is one of the 20 most widely held corporate stocks in America.

Dahlberg also announced financial results for 1995, reporting that earnings for the year were $1.1 billion or $1.66 a share, compared with $989 million or $1.52 a share for 1994. For the fourth quarter of 1995, net income was $160 million or 24 cents a share, compared with $175 million or 27 cents a share for the comparable period a year earlier.

Results for 1994 included a charge of $61 million, or 9 cents per share, for severance programs. The acquisition of South Western Electricity in the fourth quarter affected earnings for 1995. The Southern Company completed its acquisition of South Western, a British utility, in October.

Revenues for 1995 were $9.2 billion, compared with $8.3 billion for 1994. Fourth quarter 1995 revenues were $2.3 billion, compared with $1.9 billion in 1994’s fourth quarter.

Reviewing operations, Dahlberg said electricity use by retail customers in The Southern Company`s service area increased 5.4 percent during 1995, in part because of an unusually hot summer. In-home electricity needs were up 9.2 percent to 39.1 billion kilowatt-hours. Electricity consumption by commercial customers — offices, stores and other non-manufacturing firms — gained 5.5 percent to 35.9 billion kilowatt-hours. Industrial energy use increased 2.7 percent to 51.6 billion kilowatt-hours. Total sales of electricity to customers of The Southern Company, including sales to other utilities, were up 4.4 percent in 1995, compared with 1994.

Dahlberg said The Southern Company gained 65,000 new customers in 1995.

Dahlberg also announced that the board of directors today approved a capital budget of $1.2 billion for 1996. Included in the budget are funds for adding new generating capacity; for upgrading power plants, transmission lines, substations and distribution facilities; and for environmental controls, new customer connections and nuclear fuel.

A $3.6 billion capital budget for the period 1996-1998 also was reviewed by the board.