Southern Company reports 1998 third-quarter earnings

Southern Company reported net income of $517 million or 74 cents a share for the three months ending Sept. 30, 1998, compared with $375 million or 55 cents a share for the third quarter of 1997, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer A.W. Dahlberg announced today. Southern Company’s board of directors also today approved a quarterly dividend of 33½ cents a share, payable Dec. 5 to shareholders of record Nov. 2.

In 1997, a windfall profit tax assessed against Southern Company’s South Western Electricity subsidiary in the United Kingdom caused a one-time charge in the third quarter, reducing earnings by $111 million or about 16 cents per share.

“For this reason -- and because of the continued strong performance from our core business and our non-traditional operations -- this year’s third-quarter results significantly outpaced last year’s third-quarter performance,” Dahlberg noted.

Earnings for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 1998, were $1.0 billion or $1.48 a share, compared with $777 million or $1.14 per share for the same period in 1997. Earnings for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 1998, were $1.2 billion or $1.76 a share, compared with $916 million or $1.35 a share for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 1997.

Reviewing operations, Dahlberg said electricity use by retail customers in Southern Company’s traditional service area increased 7.7 percent to 109.4 billion kilowatt-hours during the first nine months of 1998. In-home electricity needs were up 15.2 percent to 34.9 billion kilowatt-hours. Electricity consumption by commercial customers -- offices, stores and other non-manufacturing firms -- rose 7.5 percent to 31.8 billion kilowatt-hours. Industrial energy use increased 2.5 percent to 41.9 billion kilowatt-hours.

Total sales of electricity to Southern Company customers, including sales to other utilities, rose 7.7 percent to 127.2 billion kilowatt-hours for the first nine months of 1998.

Dahlberg added that Southern Energy Inc. -- which includes Southern Company’s international business, energy marketing, and management of U.S. independent power operations -- reported net income of $58 million for the third quarter of 1998. Southern Energy’s earnings for the first nine months of 1998 were $156 million.

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.

Southern Energy Inc., a unit of Southern Company, develops, builds, owns and operates power production and delivery facilities and provides a broad range of services to utilities and industrial companies around the world. Its Southern Company Energy Marketing subsidiary, jointly owned with Vastar Resources Inc., provides energy trading, marketing and financial services and other energy-related commodities, products and services to customers in North America.