Southern Company reports strong first-quarter earnings

ATLANTA – Southern Company reported a 9 percent increase in first-quarter earnings, reflecting growth in both its regulated electricity business in the Southeast and in its Asian business units, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer A.W. “Bill” Dahlberg announced today.

Southern Company reported earnings of $245 million, or 38 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2000, compared with $224 million, or 32 cents per share, during the same period last year. Revenues for first quarter 2000 were $2.6 billion, compared with $2.4 billion in 1999’s first quarter.

“We’re off to a great start this year,” Dahlberg said. “Southern Company’s five integrated utilities in the Southeast are meeting all our expectations, and our Asian business units continue to add to earnings.” Southern Company’s five integrated utilities in the Southeast reported $176 million in first quarter 2000 net income, compared with $168 million for the same period last year. Higher energy demand, an increased customer base and a growing wholesale energy supply business in the Southeast contributed to the increase.

Southern Energy Inc., the subsidiary that includes Southern Company’s international operations and its competitive U.S. energy supply business outside the Southeast, reported $101 million in first-quarter 2000 earnings, compared with $88 million for the same period last year. Its increased contribution to net income was due in large part to growing profitability from its Asian business units. Asian investments contributed $83 million in first-quarter 2000 earnings, compared with $51 million for the same period last year.

Southern Company’s earnings for the 12 months ending March 31, 2000, were $1.3 billion, or $1.92 a share, compared with $959 million, or $1.37 a share, for the 12 months ending March 31, 1999.

Southern Company’s board of directors today also approved a regular quarterly dividend of 33½ cents a share on the company’s common stock, payable June 6, 2000, to shareholders of record May 1, 2000. This marks the 210th consecutive quarter – dating back to 1948 – that Southern Company has paid a dividend to its shareholders. The quarterly dividend equals an annual rate of $1.34 per share.

Reviewing operations, Dahlberg said electricity use by retail customers in Southern Company’s traditional service area in the southeastern United States increased 4.5 percent to 33.9 billion kilowatt-hours the first three months of 2000. In-home electricity needs were up 3.9 percent to 9.8 billion kilowatt-hours. Electricity consumption by commercial customers – offices, stores and other non-manufacturing firms – rose 7.5 percent to 10.1 billion kilowatt-hours. Industrial energy use increased 2.9 percent to 13.6 billion kilowatt-hours.

Total sales of electricity to Southern Company’s customers in the Southeast, including sales to other utilities, increased 7.1 percent to 39.1 billion kilowatt-hours the first three months of 2000. Financial highlights.

Later today, Southern Company will post to its Web site recorded remarks on first-quarter performance and a detailed financial package of information on its first-quarter performance.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is an international energy company that operates more than 48,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity worldwide. It is the largest producer of electricity in the United States and one of the world’s largest independent power producers. Southern Company subsidiaries and their affiliates serve 12 million retail customers worldwide and millions more through the wholesale market. 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 has operations in 12 countries on five continents and has a growing presence in North America with assets in the Northeast, the Midwest, California and Texas. Southern Company also provides energy-related marketing, risk management and technical services in the United States and Europe and offers Southern LINC wireless telecommunications.

NOTE: This news release includes forward-looking statements in addition to historical information. We caution that there are various important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. There can be no assurance, therefore, that the indicated results will be realized. These factors include those discussed in our filings, including Forms 10-K and 10-Q, from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.