Southern Company has reported operating revenues of $17.13 billion for the year-end 2008, up 11.6%, compared with the operating revenues of $15.35 billion in the previous year-end. It has also reported earnings of $1.74 billion for the year-end 2008, or $2.26 per share, compared with the earnings of $1.73 billion, $2.29 per share, in the previous year-end.
Southern Company also reported fourth quarter earnings of $185.6 million, or 24 cents a share, compared with earnings of $204.1 million, or 27 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Earnings for the fourth quarter and year ended December 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. Earnings for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2007, included synthetic fuel earnings of 1 cent per share and 8 cents per share, respectively.
Excluding the impact of synthetic fuel investments and charges related to the leveraged leases, Southern Company earned $2.37 a share for the full-year 2008, compared with $2.21 a share for the same period in 2007. Excluding the impact of synthetic fuel investments and charges related to the leveraged leases, earnings for the fourth quarter of 2008 were 26 cents a share, compared with 26 cents a share for the same period in 2007.
For most of 2008, the Southeast experienced less of an economic downturn than the rest of the nation. The region is now experiencing the same economic stresses that have been plaguing the rest of the nation for some time, as evidenced in part by the continued decline in electricity sales and usage.
Positive earnings drivers in 2008 include increased retail rates, revenues from market-response rates offered to commercial and industrial customers, and revenues associated with the recovery of investments in environmental equipment. These positive drivers were primarily offset by the weak economy, mild summer temperatures as compared with 2007, higher non-fuel operations and maintenance expenses, and asset depreciation primarily associated with increased investment in environmental equipment and transmission and distribution equipment. These investments are needed to produce cleaner energy and maintain reliability.
Fourth quarter revenues were $3.80 billion, compared with $3.34 billion in the same period a year earlier, an increase of 13.8%.
Kilowatt-hour sales to retail customers in Southern Company’s four-state service area decreased 2.1% in 2008, compared with 2007. Residential energy sales decreased 2.0%. Commercial energy sales decreased 0.4%. Industrial energy sales declined 3.7%.
Total energy sales to Southern Company’s customers in the Southeast, including wholesale sales, decreased 0.8% in 2008 compared with 2007.
Just as our customers are finding ways to manage through this economic recession, we are working to take the necessary steps to manage costs in our business and maintain the level of customer satisfaction and reliability our customers have come to expect, said chief executive officer David M. Ratcliffe. While we expect these economic challenges to continue through 2009, we’re optimistic that the long-term viability of the region remains strong. We continue to execute our proven business strategy while preparing for the future growth of the Southeast, Ratcliffe said.