Southern Company first quarter earnings: Mild weather offsets emerging economic growth
ATLANTA, April 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company today reported first quarter 2012 earnings of $368 million, or 42 cents a share, compared with earnings of $422 million, or 50 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2011.
First quarter 2012 revenues were $3.60 billion, compared with $4.01 billion for the first quarter of 2011, a 10.2 percent decrease.
Earnings were negatively affected by warmer-than-normal weather during the first quarter of 2012, partially offset by retail revenue effects in the company's traditional business.
"Despite the effects of an unusually warm winter, we continue to see positive indications of economic growth in our service territory," said Thomas A. Fanning, Southern Company (SO) chairman, president and chief executive officer. "In the meantime, we remain focused on our core business strategy of providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity to customers throughout the Southeast."
Fanning cited stronger-than-expected residential customer growth as the latest indicator of the ongoing economic recovery. Southern Company's traditional operating companies added approximately 15,000 new residential customers during the first quarter of 2012, a significant increase over the 2,000 customers added during the same period a year ago.
Kilowatt-hour sales to retail customers in the Southern Company system's four-state service area decreased 5.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the first quarter of 2011. Residential and commercial energy sales -- both of which were negatively affected by warmer-than-normal weather -- decreased 13.7 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. Industrial energy sales increased 1.9 percent.
Total energy sales to customers, including wholesale sales, decreased 7.3 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the first quarter of 2011.
Southern Company's financial analyst call will begin at 1 p.m. Eastern time today, during which Fanning and Chief Financial Officer Art P. Beattie will discuss earnings and provide a general business update. Investors, media and the public may listen to a live webcast of the call and view associated slides at http://investor.southerncompany.com/events.cfm. A replay of the webcast only will be available at the site for 12 months.
Southern Company has also posted on its website detailed financial information on its first quarter performance. These materials are available at www.southerncompany.com.
With 4.4 million customers and more than 43,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company 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 also is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website 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 sales growth, economic recovery, customer growth, and job creation. 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, 2011, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory changes, 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, coal combustion byproducts, and emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, carbon, soot, particulate matter, hazardous air pollutants, including mercury, and other substances, financial reform legislation, 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, and Internal Revenue Service and state tax audits; 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 avoid cost overruns during the development and construction of facilities; investment performance of Southern Company's employee benefit plans and nuclear decommissioning trust funds; 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 and actions related to the Plant Vogtle expansion, including Georgia Public Service Commission approvals, Nuclear Regulatory Commission actions, and potential U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantees; regulatory approvals and actions related to the Kemper County integrated coal gasification combined cycle facility, including Mississippi Public Service Commission approvals, potential U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantees, the South Mississippi Electric Power Association purchase decision, utilization of investment tax credits, and the outcome of any further proceedings regarding the Mississippi Public Service Commission's issuance of the certificate of public convenience and necessity; 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, including cyber intrusion; interest rate fluctuations and financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts, including Southern Company's and its subsidiaries' credit ratings; the impacts of any potential U.S. credit rating downgrade or other sovereign financial issues, including impacts on interest rates, access to capital markets, impacts on currency exchange rates, counterparty performance, and the economy in general, as well as potential impacts on the availability or benefits of proposed U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantees; 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 influenzas, 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 expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking information.
SOURCE Southern Company