In the 1967 movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman's character is given the one word that holds the future -- plastics. From the 1980s on, two words would have summed up where the growth would be -- Sun Belt.

For those who specialize in "1 + 1 = 2" investing, the common sense way to participate in Sun Belt growth would be through electricity. Growth brings business and people. Both need electricity.

Take a look at the 30-year chart for Southern Company (NYSE:SO). Notice the long steady rise in the stock price starting in 1980. That's what you get when you supply electricity in the Old South States of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Georgia.

Do not be misled and assume that all Southern utilities are belles of the stock market ball. Tampa Electric parent TECO Energy (NYSE:TE) has suffered mightily from its foray into merchant power. Moody's (NYSE:MCO) has a negative credit rating outlook at Florida and Carolina power producer Progress Energy (NYSE:PGN).

While Southern Company's revenue and earnings both increased 4.2% in the latest quarter, consider what happened where the company hangs its wires. Hurricane Ivan was the most destructive storm in the company's history and, at its peak, left 40% of its customers without power. August temperatures, the heart of air-conditioning season, were the second coolest in 25 years. But 70,000 new customers (love that growth!) stopped Mother Nature from creating negative comparisons with the year-ago quarter.

In today's low-yield world, investors will be happy to learn that this Motley Fool Income Investor recommended stock also yields 4.5%. Since the company's long-term goal is 5% profit growth, you can see how sensible (cents-able?) the future can be.

So, add it up. Participate in the Sun Belt's growth and collect an outstanding yield along the way. Isn't this the common sense way to build wealth?

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Fool contributor W.D. Crotty has participated in Southern Company's dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) for more than 25 years. Talk about a long-term buy and hold investor!