ATLANTA Southern Company today reported 2001 earnings of $1.12 billion, or $1.62 per share. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Allen Franklin said the results, which exceeded analysts consensus expectations, demonstrated Southern Companys ability to successfully execute its strategy while facing the challenges of mild weather and economic recession.
The full-year results, which represent a 6.6 percent increase in earnings per share, compare with reported earnings of $994 million, or $1.52 per share in 2000.
Mild weather in the Southeast throughout the year and a weaker economy, especially in the manufacturing sector, negatively impacted electricity sales. However, several factors -- including continued customer growth, cost controls and lower interest expenses from declining short-term debt and reduced interest rates -- contributed positively to earnings.
The past year clearly stood in sharp contrast to 2000 when conditions were much more favorable to our business, said Franklin. But our employees rose to the challenge and enabled us to produce positive results. We concluded 2001 as one of the industrys strongest performers. With signs pointing to economic recovery, we anticipate continued earnings growth of at least 5 percent annually.
For the fourth quarter of 2001, reported earnings were $116 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $64 million, or 9 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2000. Fourth quarter earnings also exceeded analysts consensus expectations.
Revenues for 2001 were $10.2 billion, compared with $10.1 billion in 2000. Fourth quarter revenues totaled $2.2 billion, compared with $2.3 billion in the same period a year earlier.
Reviewing operations, Franklin said electricity use by retail customers in Southern Company`s four-state service area decreased 3.2 percent to 145.3 billion kilowatt-hours in 2001. In-home electricity needs were down 3.6 percent to 44.5 billion kilowatt-hours. Electricity use by commercial customers -- offices, stores and other non-manufacturing firms increased 1.5 percent to 46.9 billion kilowatt-hours. Industrial energy use declined 6.8 percent to 52.9 billion kilowatt-hours, mainly because of the continued slowdown in manufacturing activity across the region.
Total sales of electricity to Southern Company`s customers in the Southeast, including sales to other utilities, decreased 0.5 percent to 176.0 billion kilowatt-hours for the year.
In conjunction with this earnings announcement, Southern Company has posted on its Web site a package of detailed financial information on its full-year and fourth quarter performance. These materials are available at 7:30 a.m. EST Jan. 24 at www.southerncompany.com.
Southern Company`s financial analyst call will be at 1 p.m. EST Jan. 24, 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.
With nearly 4 million customers and more than 34,000 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 five electric utilities, a fast-growing competitive generation company and an energy services 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 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:
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 Company`s ability to meet its earnings growth goals. 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, 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 Company`s subsidiaries operate; the impact of fluctuations in commodity prices, interest rates and customer demand; state and federal rate regulation in the United States; 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 effects of, and changes in, economic conditions in the areas in which Southern Company`s subsidiaries operate; 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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