Southern Company Reports Solid Earnings for a Challenging 2009

Jan 27, 2010, 07:30 ET from Southern Company

ATLANTA, Jan. 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Despite the economic challenges of 2009, Southern Company today reported solid fourth quarter earnings of $250.9 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with earnings of $185.6 million, or 24 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Southern Company also reported full-year 2009 earnings of $1.65 billion, or $2.07 a share, compared with earnings for 2008 of $1.74 billion, or $2.26 a share.

Excluding certain items described below, Southern Company earned 31 cents a share for the fourth quarter of 2009, compared with 26 cents a share for the same period in 2008, and $2.32 a share for 2009, compared with $2.37 a share in 2008, a 2.1 percent decrease year over year.

Earnings for the year ended Dec. 31, 2009, included a charge of 25 cents a share related to a settlement agreement with MC Asset Recovery (MCAR) LLC to resolve a lawsuit arising out of the 2003 bankruptcy of Mirant Corp., a Southern Company subsidiary until its 2001 spin-off. Earnings for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2008, included charges of 2 cents a share and 11 cents a share, respectively, related to three leveraged leases from the 1990s when Southern Company pursued development of international energy projects.

The recession had a significant impact on overall electricity sales and usage in 2009, with industrial sales showing the largest decline – 11.8 percent year over year. In the third quarter, industrial activity in the Southeast stabilized and began showing signs of improvement.

Other negative earnings factors for 2009 included decreased revenues from market-response rates offered to commercial and industrial customers, and higher asset depreciation primarily associated with increased investments in environmental, transmission and distribution equipment. In addition, an increase in the number of shares outstanding and interest expense had a negative impact on earnings.

Positive earnings drivers in 2009 included lower non-fuel operations and maintenance expenses, increased monthly service charges, and revenues associated with the recovery of investments in environmental equipment.

"While the 2009 recession marked the greatest negative impact on energy demand in Southern Company's history, we remain focused on delivering value to our customers and shareholders," said CEO David M. Ratcliffe. "The Southeast is still an excellent place to live and do business, and we continue to aggressively pursue implementation of smarter, more efficient technologies across our business."

Revenues for the full year were $15.74 billion, compared with $17.13 billion in 2008, an 8.1 percent decrease. Fourth quarter revenues were $3.51 billion, compared with $3.80 billion in the same period a year earlier, a decrease of 7.7 percent.

Kilowatt-hour sales to retail customers in Southern Company's four-state service area decreased 4.8 percent in 2009, compared with 2008. Residential energy sales decreased 1.1 percent. Commercial energy sales decreased 1.7 percent. Industrial energy sales declined 11.8 percent.

Total energy sales to Southern Company's customers in the Southeast, including wholesale sales, decreased 6.8 percent in 2009 compared with 2008.

Southern Company's financial analyst call will be at 1 p.m. EST Jan. 27, at which time Ratcliffe and Chief Financial Officer Paul Bowers will discuss earnings and earnings guidance as well as a general business update. Investors, media and the public may listen to a live webcast of the call and view slides in conjunction with the call at www.southerncompany.com. A replay of the webcast only will be available at the site for 12 months.

Southern Company has also posted on its Web site detailed financial information on its fourth quarter and 2009 performance. These materials are available at www.southerncompany.com.

With 4.4 million customers and more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast. A leading U.S. producer of electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, 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 below the national average. Southern Company is consistently listed among the top U.S. electric service providers in customer satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Visit our Web site at www.southerncompany.com.  

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements:

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 economic recovery. 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 suggested 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 December 31, 2008, 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, implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, environmental laws including regulation of water quality and emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, carbon, soot, coal combustion products, or particulate matter and other substances, and also changes in tax 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, regulatory investigations, proceedings, or inquiries, including the pending Environmental Protection Agency civil actions against certain Southern Company subsidiaries, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission matters, Internal Revenue Service audits, and Mirant matters; the effects, extent, and timing of the entry of additional competition in the markets in which Southern Company's subsidiaries operate; variations in demand for electricity, including those relating to weather, the general economy and recovery from the recent recession, population and business growth (and declines), and the effects of energy conservation measures; available sources and costs of fuels; effects of inflation; ability to control costs and cost overruns during the development and construction of facilities; investment performance of Southern Company's employee benefit plans and nuclear decommissioning trusts; advances in technology; state and federal rate regulations and the impact of pending and future rate cases and negotiations, including rate actions relating to fuel and other cost recovery mechanisms; regulatory approvals related to the potential Plant Vogtle expansion, including Georgia Public Service Commission and Nuclear Regulatory Commission approvals; the performance of projects undertaken by the non-utility businesses 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 and to perform as required; the ability to obtain new short- and long-term contracts with wholesale customers; the direct or indirect effect on Southern Company's business resulting from terrorist incidents and the threat of terrorist incidents; interest rate fluctuations and financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts, including Southern Company's and its subsidiaries' credit ratings; the ability of Southern Company and its subsidiaries to obtain additional generating capacity at competitive prices; catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, explosions, floods, hurricanes, droughts, pandemic health events such as an avian or other influenza, or other similar occurrences; the direct or indirect effects on Southern Company's business resulting from incidents affecting the U.S. electric grid or operation of generating resources; and the effect of accounting pronouncements issued periodically by standard setting bodies. Southern Company and its subsidiaries expressly disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking information.

Southern Company

Financial Highlights

(In Millions of Dollars Except Earnings Per Share)

Three Months Ended December

Year-to-Date December

2009

2008

2009

2008

Consolidated Earnings–As Reported

(See Notes)

Traditional Operating Companies

$

231 

$

183 

$

1,680 

$

1,703 

Southern Power

30 

20 

156 

145 

Total

261 

203 

1,836 

1,848 

Parent Company and Other

(10)

(17)

(191)

(106)

Net Income–As Reported

$

251 

$

186 

$

1,645 

$

1,742 

Basic Earnings Per Share -

$

0.31 

$

0.24 

$

2.07 

$

2.26 

Average Shares Outstanding (in millions)

810 

776 

795 

771 

End of Period Shares Outstanding (in millions)

820 

778 

Three Months Ended December

Year-to-Date December

2009

2008

2009

2008

Consolidated Earnings–Excluding Items

(See Notes)

Net Income–As Reported

$

251

$

186

$

1,645

$

1,742

Leveraged Lease Adjustment

-

16

-

83

MC Asset Recovery Litigation Settlement

-

-

202

-

Net Income–Excluding Items

$

251

$

202

$

1,847

$

1,825

Basic Earnings Per Share–Excluding Items

$

0.31

$

0.26

$

2.32

$

2.37

Significant Factors Impacting EPS

Three Months Ended December

Year-to-Date December

2009

2008

Change

2009

2008

Change

Consolidated Earnings Per Share–

As Reported (See Notes)

$

0.31 

$

0.24 

$

0.07 

$

2.07 

$

2.26 

$

(0.19)

Significant Factors:

Traditional Operating Companies

0.06 

(0.03)

Southern Power

0.01 

0.01 

Parent Company and Other

0.01 

(0.11)

Additional Shares

(0.01)

(0.06)

Total–As Reported

$

0.07 

$

(0.19)

Three Months Ended December

Year-to-Date December

2009

2008

Change

2009

2008

Change

Consolidated Earnings Per Share–

Excluding Items (See Notes)

$

0.31 

$

0.26 

$

0.05 

$

2.32 

$

2.37 

$

(0.05)

Total–As Reported

0.07 

(0.19)

Leveraged Lease Adjustment

(0.02)

(0.11)

MC Asset Recovery Litigation Settlement

0.25 

Total–Excluding Items

$

0.05 

$

(0.05)

Notes

- For the three months and twelve months ended December 31, 2009 and 2008, diluted earnings per share are not more than 1 cent per share and are not material.

- The charges related to Southern Company's tax treatment of investments in leveraged leases significantly impacted the presentation of earnings and earnings per share for the three months and twelve months ended December 31, 2008, and such charges are not expected to occur on a regular basis.

- The charge related to Southern Company's MC Asset Recovery litigation settlement significantly impacted the presentation of earnings and earnings per share for the twelve months ended December 31, 2009, and significant charges related to the Mirant spin-off are not expected to occur in the future.

- Certain prior year data has been reclassified to conform with current year presentation.

- Information contained in this report is subject to audit and adjustments.  Certain classifications may be different from final results published in the Form 10-K.

Southern Company

EPS Earnings Analysis

Year-to-Date December 2009

Cents

Description

(0.19)

Retail Sales

0.11 

Retail Revenue Impacts

(0.02)

Weather

0.15 

Non-Fuel O&M

(0.05)

Depreciation & Amortization

0.04 

Other Income & Deductions

(0.05)

Interest Expense

(0.02)

Taxes Other Than Income Taxes

($0.03)

Total Traditional Operating Companies

0.01 

Southern Power

0.03 

Parent and Other

(0.06)

Increase in Shares

($0.05)

Total Change in YTD EPS (x-Items)

(0.25)

MCAR Settlement

0.11 

Leveraged Lease Adjustments (2008)

($0.19)

Total Change in YTD EPS (As Reported)

Notes

-  The charges related to Southern Company's tax treatment of investments in leveraged leases significantly impacted the presentation of earnings and earnings per share for the three months and twelve months ended December 31, 2008, and such charges are not expected to occur on a regular basis.  

-  The charge related to Southern Company's MC Asset Recovery litigation settlement significantly impacted the presentation of earnings and earnings per share for the twelve months ended December 31, 2009, and significant charges related to the Mirant spin-off are not expected to occur in the future.  

-  Information contained in this report is subject to audit and adjustments.  Certain classifications may be different from final results published in the Form 10-K.

Southern Company

Consolidated Earnings

(In Millions of Dollars)

Three Months Ended December

Year-to-Date December

2009

2008

Change

2009

2008

Change

Income Account-

Retail Revenue-

  Fuel

$

1,188 

$

1,406 

$

(218)

$

5,285 

$

5,912 

$

(627)

  Non-Fuel

1,764 

1,715 

49 

8,022 

8,143 

(121)

Wholesale Revenues

394 

520 

(126)

1,802 

2,400 

(598)

Other Electric Revenues

141 

131 

10 

533 

545 

(12)

Non-regulated Operating Revenues

23 

30 

(7)

101 

127 

(26)

Total Revenues

3,510 

3,802 

(292)

15,743 

17,127 

(1,384)

Fuel and Purchased Power

1,429 

1,738 

(309)

6,426 

7,633 

(1,207)

Non-fuel O & M

994 

1,028 

(34)

3,517 

3,748 

(231)

MCAR Litigation Settlement

202 

202 

Depreciation and Amortization

409 

373 

36 

1,508 

1,443 

65 

Taxes Other Than Income Taxes

197 

194 

818 

797 

21 

Total Operating Expenses

3,029 

3,333 

(304)

12,471 

13,621 

(1,150)

Operating Income

481 

469 

12 

3,272 

3,506 

(234)

Other Income, net

75 

11 

64 

241 

82 

159 

Interest Charges

220 

201 

19 

905 

866 

39 

Income Taxes

69 

77 

(8)

898 

915 

(17)

Net Income

267 

202 

65 

1,710 

1,807 

(97)

Dividends on Preferred and Preference Stock of Subsidiaries

16 

16 

65 

65 

NET INCOME AFTER DIVIDENDS ON PREFERRED AND PREFERENCE STOCK (See Notes)

$

251 

$

186 

$

65 

$

1,645 

$

1,742 

$

(97)

Kilowatt-Hour Sales

(In Millions of KWHs)

Three Months Ended December

Year-to-Date December

Weather

                                                                                          Weather

Adjusted

                                                                                          Adjusted

As Reported (See Notes)

2009

2008

Change

Change

2009

2008

Change

Change

Kilowatt-Hour Sales-

Total Sales

42,921   

44,761   

-4.1%

186,093   

199,627   

-6.8%

Total Retail Sales-

35,793   

36,001   

-0.6%

-1.5%

152,591   

160,259   

-4.8%

-4.5%

  Residential

11,401   

11,278   

1.1%

-1.6%

51,690   

52,262   

-1.1%

-0.7%

  Commercial

12,457   

12,543   

-0.7%

-1.0%

53,526   

54,427   

-1.7%

-1.2%

  Industrial

11,700   

11,948   

-2.1%

-1.9%

46,422   

52,636   

-11.8%

-11.7%

  Other

235   

232   

1.0%

1.4%

953   

934   

2.0%

2.2%

Total Wholesale Sales

7,128   

8,760   

-18.6%

N/A

33,502   

39,368   

-14.9%

N/A

Notes

- Certain prior year data has been reclassified to conform with current year presentation.

- Information contained in this report is subject to audit and adjustments.  Certain classifications may be different from final results published in the Form 10-K.

Southern Company

Financial Overview

(In Millions of Dollars)

Three Months Ended December

Year-to-Date December

2009

2008

% Change

2009

2008

% Change

Consolidated –

Operating Revenues

$

3,510   

$

3,802   

-7.7%

$

15,743   

$

17,127   

-8.1%

Earnings Before Income Taxes

336   

279   

20.3%

2,608   

2,722   

-4.2%

Net Income Available to Common

251   

186   

35.1%

1,645   

1,742   

-5.5%

Alabama Power –

Operating Revenues

$

1,231   

$

1,405   

-12.5%

$

5,529   

$

6,077   

-9.0%

Earnings Before Income Taxes

135   

135   

-0.7%

1,093   

1,023   

6.8%

Net Income Available to Common

86   

81   

4.8%

670   

616   

8.7%

Georgia Power –

Operating Revenues

$

1,725   

$

1,792   

-3.7%

$

7,692   

$

8,412   

-8.6%

Earnings Before Income Taxes

150   

116   

30.3%

1,241   

1,408   

-11.8%

Net Income Available to Common

114   

77   

48.1%

814   

903   

-9.8%

Gulf Power –

Operating Revenues

$

299   

$

304   

-1.6%

$

1,302   

$

1,387   

-6.1%

Earnings Before Income Taxes

30   

20   

41.0%

170   

158   

7.4%

Net Income Available to Common

21   

14   

46.5%

111   

98   

13.1%

Mississippi Power –

Operating Revenues

$

263   

$

292   

-9.7%

$

1,149   

$

1,257   

-8.5%

Earnings Before Income Taxes

15   

16   

-6.3%

137   

136   

0.6%

Net Income Available to Common

10   

10   

6.3%

85   

86   

-1.2%

Southern Power –

Operating Revenues

$

202   

$

266   

-24.2%

$

947   

$

1,314   

-27.9%

Earnings Before Income Taxes

37   

34   

7.2%

242   

237   

2.1%

Net Income Available to Common

30   

20   

47.0%

156   

144   

8.2%

Notes

- Certain prior year data has been reclassified to conform with current year presentation.

- Information contained in this report is subject to audit and adjustments.  Certain classifications may be different from final results published in the

Form 10-K.

SOURCE Southern Company



RELATED LINKS

http://www.southerncompany.com