ATLANTA Southern Company said today it is increasing its annual dividend rate by 3 cents to $1.40 per share.
The quarterly dividend, payable Sept. 6, 2003, to shareholders of record Aug. 4, 2003, will increase three-quarters of a cent to 35 cents per share. This marks the 223rd consecutive quarter dating back to 1948 that Southern Company will have paid a dividend to its shareholders.
Southern Company last raised its dividend in 2002, also by an annual rate of 3 cents per share.
We are pleased that, for the second consecutive year, we are increasing the dividend to our shareholders. We are able to do this because of our continuing success in meeting or exceeding our financial, operational and customer service goals, said Allen Franklin, chairman, president and chief executive officer.
This increase in the dividend also underscores our confidence in the sustainability of our earnings quality, Franklin said. Our ongoing commitment to shareholders is to deliver earnings growth and dividend growth.
With 4 million customers and more than 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier super-regional energy company in the Southeast and a leading U.S. producer of electricity. Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states, a growing competitive generation company, an energy services business and a competitive retail natural gas business, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are 15 percent below the national average. Southern Company has been named two consecutive years No. 1 on Fortune magazines Americas Most Admired Companies list in the Electric and Gas Utility industry. Southern Company has more than 500,000 shareholders, making its common stock one of the most widely held in the United States. Visit the Southern Company Web site at www.southerncompany.com.
Forward Looking Statements Note:
All of the information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Southern Company cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Southern Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such indicated results will be realized.
The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Southern Company`s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2002, and subsequent securities filings, could cause results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory change, including legislative and regulatory initiatives regarding deregulation and restructuring of the electric utility industry and also changes in environmental and other laws and regulations to which Southern Company and its subsidiaries are subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; current and future litigation, including the EPA civil action against certain subsidiaries of Southern Company; the effects, extent and timing of additional competition in the markets in which Southern Company`s subsidiaries operate; the impact of fluctuations in commodity prices, interest rates and customer demand; state and federal rate regulation; political and legal conditions and developments in the United States; the performance of projects undertaken by the non-traditional business and the success of efforts to invest in and develop new opportunities; internal restructuring or other restructuring options that may be pursued; potential business strategies, including acquisitions or dispositions of assets or businesses, which cannot be assured to be completed or beneficial to Southern Company or its subsidiaries; the ability of counterparties of Southern Company and its subsidiaries to make payments as and when due; the effects of, and changes in, economic conditions in the areas in which Southern Company`s subsidiaries operate, including the current soft economy; the direct or indirect effects on Southern Companys business resulting from the terrorist incidents on Sept. 11, 2001, or any similar such incidents or responses to such incidents; financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts; the timing and acceptance of Southern Company`s new product and service offerings; the ability of Southern Company to obtain additional generating capacity at competitive prices; and weather and other natural phenomena.
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