It's lights out for yet another power company, as recessionary effects continue to diminish quarterly profits for companies in the sector. Power provider Southern ( SO) said profit declined drastically in the first-quarter, marred by a lawsuit settlement and disappointing sales to industrial customers.

Earnings during the quarter plummeted 65% to $125.7 million, or 16 cents a share, from $359.2 million, or 47 cents a share in the year-ago period. Excluding a settlement charge of 26 cents, the company earned 42 cents a share. Analysts expected a profit of 41 cents a share.

Revenue remained flat at $3.67 billion.

CenterPoint Energy ( CNP) also said on Wednesday that its first-quarter income took a nosedive. The company said earnings declined 45% to $67 million, or 19 cents a share, from $122 million, or 36 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Last week American Electric Power ( AEP) posted a 37% tumble in first-quarter earnings to $360 million, or 89 cents a share, from $573 million, or $1.43 a share, a year earlier.
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