ATLANTA Southern Company today said first quarter earnings from operations increased by 27 percent over the same period a year ago, boosted by the strong performance of its Mirant subsidiary and growing demand for electricity in the Southeast.
Earnings from operations for the first quarter were $320 million, or 47 cents per share, compared with $237 million, or 37 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The first quarter of 2001 is the last quarter in which Southern Company will have earnings contributions from Mirant, the global energy company that was spun off to Southern Company shareholders April 2.
After non-recurring items, Southern Companys first quarter reported earnings were $320 million, or 47 cents per share, compared with $245 million, or 38 cents per share, in the first quarter a year ago.
Following the spinoff of Mirant, Southern Company is focusing on three main businesses in the Southeast: its traditional regulated business in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi; a growing competitive generation business in the eight-state Super Southeast region; and energy-related products and services for its retail customers.
Excluding any contribution from Mirant, Southern Company exceeded analysts estimates with first quarter earnings from operations of $180 million, or 26 cents per share, compared with $151 million, or 23 cents per share, in the first three months of 2000.
We are on track to deliver on the financial, operating and customer service targets we have set for 2001, said Allen Franklin, Southern Company chairman, president and chief executive officer. Our success in meeting our commitments and executing the fundamentals will continue to distinguish Southern Company.
Reviewing operations, Franklin said electricity use by retail customers in Southern Companys four-state service area increased 0.9 percent to 34.2 billion kilowatt-hours in the first quarter, compared with the first quarter of 2000. In-home electricity needs were up 8.6 percent to 10.7 billion kilowatt-hours. Electricity use by commercial customers offices, stores and other non-manufacturing firms rose 5.1 percent to 10.7 billion kilowatt-hours. Industrial energy use declined 7.9 percent to 12.6 billion kilowatt-hours, mainly because of an overall slowdown in manufacturing activity that is occurring across the region.
Total sales of electricity to Southern Companys customers in the Southeast, including sales to other utilities, increased 4.3 percent to 40.8 billion kilowatt-hours in the first quarter.
In conjunction with this earnings announcement, Southern Company has posted on its Web site a package of detailed financial information on its first quarter performance. These materials are available at 7:30 a.m. EDT April 26 at www.southerncompany.com.
Southern Companys financial analyst call will be at 2:30 p.m. EDT April 26, at which time Franklin and Chief Financial Officer Gale Klappa will discuss earnings and provide a general business update. Investors, media and the public may listen to a live Webcast of the call at www.southerncompany.com. A replay of the Webcast will be available at the site for 10 days.
Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is a super-regional energy company with more than 32,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the Southeast. It is one of the largest producers of electricity in the U.S. Southern Company is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power, Savannah Electric, Southern Nuclear, Southern Company Energy Solutions, Southern LINC and Southern Telecom. Southern Company also owns a growing competitive generation business in the Southeast. Southern Company brands are synonymous with excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are 15 percent below the national average. With more than 500,000 shareholders, Southern Company common stock is one of the most widely held stocks in the United States.
Forward looking statements note
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning Southern Companys ability to meet its financial, operating and customer service targets for 2001. 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 Companys Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2000, 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 and the diversity litigation against certain subsidiaries of Southern Company; the effects, extent and timing of additional competition in the markets in which Southern Companys subsidiaries operate; the impact of fluctuations in commodity prices, interest rates and customer demand; state and federal rate regulation 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 effects of, and changes in, economic conditions in the areas in which Southern Companys subsidiaries operate; financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts; the timing and acceptance of Southern Companys new product and service offerings; the ability of Southern Company to obtain additional generating capacity at competitive prices; and weather and other natural phenomena.