Southern Company reports record earnings for 1999. Earnings per share from operations increase 8 percent

ATLANTA – Southern Company, led by strong growth from its competitive businesses, posted record profits and earnings per share for 1999, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Dahlberg announced today.

Southern Company, the largest producer of electricity in the United States and the world’s third largest independent power producer, reported earnings of $1.28 billion or $1.86 a share in 1999, compared with $977 million or $1.40 a share in 1998.

Excluding the impact of all one-time items, earnings from operations were $1.30 billion or $1.90 a share in 1999, compared with $1.23 billion or $1.76 a share in 1998 – an 8 percent growth in earnings per share.

“1999 was a great year for Southern Company,” Dahlberg said. “We continued to execute our strategy, and we delivered on our promises. I believe we are well-positioned to continue our success through 2000 and beyond.”

In the fourth quarter of 1999, Southern Company reported earnings of $123 million or 19 cents a share, compared with a loss of $52 million or 8 cents a share for the comparable period a year earlier. Excluding the impact of one-time items, earnings from operations in fourth-quarter 1999 were $143 million or 22 cents a share, compared with $188 million or 27 cents in fourth-quarter 1998. Revenues for the fourth quarter 1999 were $2.6 billion, compared with $2.5 billion in 1998’s fourth quarter.

Southern Energy Inc., the subsidiary that includes Southern Company’s international operations and its competitive energy supply business, contributed 26 percent of Southern Company’s net income in 1999. Southern Energy reported $328 million in 1999 earnings, compared with $39 million for 1998. Dahlberg said Southern Company is on track to derive at least 30 percent of its earnings from Southern Energy by 2002. “Despite the past economic turmoil in Asia, we’re achieving better numbers than the business case that led us there,” Dahlberg said, noting that Asian operations contributed 14 percent of Southern Company’s 1999 net income. “We passed a major milestone in 1999 and began producing electricity at our 1,218-megawatt Sual power plant in the Philippines. That plant is the largest in the country and provides the lowest-cost and cleanest energy. Our income from Asia grew by more than 150 percent during 1999.”

Dahlberg also noted that Southern Company’s competitive energy supply business in North America – which includes power generation assets in Massachusetts, California, New York, Texas, Indiana and Virginia – is continuing to grow. Southern Company Energy Marketing, the company’s North American energy trading and marketing unit, also is one of the largest wholesale marketers of electricity and natural gas in the United States.

In 1999, earnings from operations from the company’s competitive energy supply business in North America, outside the Southeast, were $82 million, compared with $3 million in 1998. Dahlberg also noted that in the Southeast, the robust wholesale market is expected to be a growing contributor to Southern Company’s earnings.

“Right now, in the United States, we own, control or are building about 12,000 megawatts outside the Southeast. That’s about halfway to our goal,” Dahlberg said. “Overall, we now operate more than 48,000 megawatts of generation worldwide. We have positioned ourselves for strong growth in key electricity markets throughout North America as well as in Asia and Europe.

“And we’ve done all this,” Dahlberg continued, “while maintaining our focus on our customers and continuing the financial success of our regulated business.”

Reviewing operations, Dahlberg said electricity use by retail customers in Southern Company`s traditional service area in the southeastern United States increased 1.4 percent to 143.5 billion kilowatt-hours in 1999. In-home electricity needs were down 0.5 percent to 43.3 billion kilowatt-hours. Electricity consumption by commercial customers – offices, stores and other non-manufacturing firms – rose 3.6 percent to 43.3 billion kilowatt-hours. Industrial energy use increased 1.3 percent to 56.0 billion kilowatt-hours.

Total sales of electricity to Southern Company’s customers in the Southeast, including sales to other utilities, increased 1.0 percent to 165.9 billion kilowatt-hours in 1999.

Additional information:

  • Financial Highlights (PDF 9KB)
  • Earnings Package (PDF 62KB)
  • Recorded Remarks

    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, trading 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.