Southern Company announces increase in fourth-quarter earnings

Southern Company earned $195 million or 28 cents a share in the fourth quarter of 1997, compared with $139 million or 21 cents a share for the comparable period a year earlier, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer A.W. Dahlberg announced today.

At year-end 1997, Southern Company earned $972 million or $1.42 a share, compared with $1.13 billion or $1.68 a share in 1996.

“The windfall profit tax assessed against our South Western Electricity subsidiary in the United Kingdom caused a one-time charge in the third quarter, reducing earnings by $111 million or about 16 cents per share,” Dahlberg said. Earnings for 1997 would have been $1.08 billion without the tax.

Revenues for 1997 were $12.7 billion, compared with $10.4 billion for 1996. Fourth quarter 1997 revenues were $3.3 billion, compared with $2.4 billion in 1996’s fourth quarter. Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Based in Atlanta, Southern Company supplies electricity in 10 countries on four continents and provides energy-related marketing, trading and technical services and wireless telecommunications. Southern Company’s common stock is one of the 20 most widely held corporate stocks in America.

Reviewing operations, Dahlberg said electricity use by retail customers in Southern Company`s service area increased 1.1 percent to 133.2 billion kilowatt-hours during 1997. In-home electricity needs were down 2.2 percent to 39.2 billion kilowatt-hours. Electricity consumption by commercial customers — offices, stores and other non-manufacturing firms — gained 2.5 percent to 38.9 billion kilowatt-hours. Industrial energy use increased 2.6 percent to 54.2 billion kilowatt-hours.

Total sales of electricity to customers of Southern Company, including sales to other utilities, were up 1.9 percent to 156.5 billion kilowatt-hours in 1997, compared with 1996.

Dahlberg said Southern Company gained 77,000 new customers in 1997.