Dahlberg says international seeds bearing fruit

The markets have begun to recognize Southern Company’s efforts to position itself for the future, and the company is on track to achieve earnings goals ahead of schedule, A.W. Dahlberg, chairman, president and chief executive officer, told shareholders today.

“We told you in 1996 that one of our intermediate goals was to grow earnings 5 percent to 6 percent a year. We now have the pieces in place to do that,” Dahlberg told Southern Company’s 52nd annual meeting of shareholders at the Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, Ala. “We also told you that year we intended for our non-traditional businesses to account for 30 percent of our earnings by 2003. And we are now on schedule to achieve that goal by 2002.

“So I think that it’s appropriate at this time that we recognize you, our shareholders, because you have made our growth possible. Most of you placed your money in a company and industry that you saw as a safe, secure investment – only to learn that the industry was changing, meaning Southern Company had to change, too,” Dahlberg said. “Some of you may have been a bit apprehensive as you saw us evolve into a different kind of company. But you handled your anxiety, believed in our vision and stood behind us 100 percent.”

Dahlberg noted that earnings jumped 29 percent during the first quarter of 1998, largely because of increased earnings from international operations – particularly Bewag in Berlin and South Western Electricity in England.

He also reminded shareholders of the continued strength of the traditional business in the Southeast.

“Our customers in the Southeast pay 19 percent less for their electricity than the national average,” he said. “That is a tremendous testimony to all our people in the Southeast who continue to drive costs down and customer satisfaction up.”

Dahlberg pointed out that the company’s focus on customers will only increase, with the recent appointment of a chief marketing officer and a continuing effort to “hold the line on costs.”

The growth of Southern Company’s North American business unit also is encouraging, Dahlberg said. Southern Company Energy Marketing is now the No. 2 power marketer in all of North America and has moved into the top 10 as a gas marketer.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO), the largest producer of electricity in the United States, is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Based in Atlanta, Southern Company, through its Southern Energy Inc. subsidiary, supplies electricity in 10 countries on four continents. Southern Company also provides energy-related marketing, trading and technical services and Southern LINC wireless telecommunications. Its common stock is one of the 20 most widely held corporate stocks in America.

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.

During the business portion of the meeting, stockholders elected a slate of 14 candidates to the company’s board of directors. In addition to Dahlberg, directors include:

  • John C. Adams, 58, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Russell Corp. from 1993 to 1998.

  • A.D. Correll, 56, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Georgia-Pacific Corp.

  • Paul J. DeNicola, 49, president and chief executive officer of Southern Company Services and executive vice president and group executive of Southern Company.

  • Jack Edwards, 69, a member of Hand Arendall L.L.C., attorneys.

  • H. Allen Franklin, 53, president and chief executive officer of Georgia Power and executive vice president of Southern Company.

  • Bruce S. Gordon, 51, group president of Bell Atlantic Network Services Inc., telecommunications and computer equipment services.

  • L.G. Hardman III, 58, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of First Commerce Bancorp Inc.

  • Elmer B. Harris, 58, president and chief executive officer of Alabama Power and executive vice president of Southern Company.

  • Zack T. Pate, 61, chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators and chairman emeritus of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

  • William J. Rushton III, 68, chairman emeritus of Protective Life Corporation.

  • Gloria M. Shatto, 66, president of Berry College.

  • Gerald J. St. Pé, 58, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding Inc.

  • Herbert Stockham, 69, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and director of SVI Corp.