Southern Company discusses 1998 results and strategy for the future

Southern Company’s board of directors approved a quarterly dividend of 33½ cents a share, payable March 6 to shareholders of record Feb. 1. As part of its overall effort to implement a growth strategy that focuses on total shareholder return, Southern Company has held its dividend constant.

“Our focus is to increase the total return to our shareholders. However, our payout ratio is among the highest in the industry, and we believe it is appropriate to reduce it over time,” explained Southern Company Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Dahlberg. “Given the additional investment needed to execute our growth strategy, we have decided to retain more cash. We believe this supports our goal to raise our total shareholder return, and will help us to become the best investment in the electric utility industry.”

Southern Company (NYSE: SO), is an international energy company with $35 billion in assets through regional utilities and operations around the world. It is the largest producer of electricity in the United States and one of the world’s largest independent power producers. Based in Atlanta, Southern Company is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Through its Southern Energy Inc. subsidiary, Southern Company supplies electricity in 10 countries on four continents. It also provides energy-related marketing, trading and technical services and Southern LINC wireless telecommunications.