ATLANTA, April 30, 2003 -- Southern Co. has reported earnings of $298 million, or 41 cents per share, in the first quarter.
Cold weather and continued customer growth in the Southeast helped boost demand for electricity, and the company also had a solid performance from its competitive generation business.
The results compared with earnings of $224 million, or 32 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.
"By continuing to focus on the fundamentals that have made us successful, we are off to a good start in 2003," said Allen Franklin, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Our commitment is to execute our strategy to meet our financial, operational and customer satisfaction goals for the full year."
As of March 31, Southern Co. had 64,000 more customers than at the end of the first quarter a year earlier, as people and businesses continued to move into the region. Lower than normal temperatures in January and February also contributed to increased electricity sales. In addition, the first quarter results included a continued positive overall impact from rate proceedings in Alabama and Florida. These factors helped offset the negative effect of higher operating costs related to new generating units that were placed in service last year.
First quarter revenues were $2.55 billion, compared with $2.21 billion in the first quarter of 2002.
Southern Co. also said it expects to realize a one-time after-tax gain of about $88 million, or 12 cents per share, in the second quarter upon the closing of the previously announced early termination of all long-term wholesale power contracts between the company and Dynegy, Inc.
Reviewing operations, Franklin said electricity use by retail customers in Southern Co.'s four-state service area increased 3.2 percent in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2002. In-home electricity needs were up 4.3 percent. Electricity use by commercial customers -- offices, stores and other non-manufacturing firms -- increased 1.1 percent. Industrial energy use increased 4.0 percent.
Total sales of electricity to Southern Co.'s customers in the Southeast, including sales to other utilities, increased 9.1 percent.
In conjunction with this earnings announcement, Southern Co. has posted on its Web site a package of detailed financial information on its first quarter performance. These materials are available at 7:30 a.m. EDT April 30 at www.southerncompany.com .
With 4 million customers and nearly 37,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Co. is a super- regional energy company in the Southeast and a leading U.S. producer of electricity.
Southern Co. 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 Co. brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are 15 percent below the national average. Visit the Southern Co. Web site at www.southerncompany.com .