PINE MOUNTAIN, GA At Southern Companys annual meeting of shareholders today, Southern Company Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Allen Franklin said the company is committed to maintaining the high levels of financial and strategic performance that produced solid results in 2002.
Our long-term track record demonstrates our managements dedication to producing shareholder value, said Franklin. Moving forward, we will continue to provide what matters to our shareholdersfocus on customer service, continuous improvements in operating efficiencies and a low risk, income-oriented financial strategy.
Franklin said Southern Company will continue to focus on the business it knows bestits four-state regulated electric utility business.
The regulated business is built on bringing value and service to retail customers. The companys electricity prices are 15 percent below the national average, and the company continues to be recognized nationally as a customer service leader. Fortune Magazine named Southern Company Americas Most Admired electric and gas utility two years in a row. The regulated business accounted for 84 percent of the 2002 net income.
Southern Company is also on track to grow annual earnings from its competitive generation business to $200 million by 2005. In 2002, the company earned $168 million from competitive generation, and looking ahead, 2200 megawatts of new capacity will be added by 2003.
Franklin said the company remains committed to a strong dividend. The company raised the dividend by an annual rate of 2.2 percent in 2002.
According to Franklin, delivering value to shareholders and low-cost, reliable energy to customers are part of the companys stewardship, as is the companys environmental commitment to the communities it serves. The company is seeing results of its environmental initiatives, including reductions in emissions, support for alternative and renewable forms of energy production and expanded partnerships that focus on conservation, biodiversity and environmental awareness.
A shareholder resolution requesting that Southern Company report the economic risk and benefits associated with its emissions was defeated by 77 percent. Southern Company is pleased that the majority of shareholders agree that the company currently provides adequate information concerning risk factors and that providing any additional information beyond what is known to predict economic risk would be highly speculative and therefore unreliable to them as investors.
With 4 million customers and nearly 37,000 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:
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 commitment to maintaining high levels of financial and strategic performance; its dedication to producing shareholder value; its continuing to focus on customer service; improvements in operating efficiencies and a low risk, income-oriented strategy; its growing annual earnings from competitive generation by 2005 and adding 2200 megawatts of new capacity; its commitment to a strong dividend; and its ability to deliver both value to shareholders and lower-cost, highly reliable electricity and to achieve results from its environmental initiatives. 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.