Centrica shares fall on profit warning as winter gets off to a mild start

 
Sarah Spickernell
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The profit warning comes after a mild winter (Source: Getty)
We might be enjoying the milder-than-usual start to winter, but for Centrica it's been the source of lower-than-usual profits.
The multinational utility company, which owns British Gas, admitted in a statement this morning that it had inaccurately read the meter on its earnings estimates issued earlier in the year, and that its profit estimates for the full year had to be revised down as a result.
It blamed the warning on mild winter weather, along with "trading conditions" (no adjective there) for its British Gas services unit and the impact of inspections at two of its nuclear power stations.
“This change reflects mild UK weather in the second half of the year to date, trading conditions for British Gas Services, and the impact of boiler spine inspections,” the report said.
The company, which is the largest supplier of gas to domestic customers in the UK, lowered its expected earnings per share in 2014 to 19-20p – down from the 21-22p it predicted when it released its interim results in July. Shares reacted by declining 1.4 per cent to £2.95 in morning trading.
The revision will create a more difficult role for incoming chief executive Ian Conn, who will replace Sam Laidlow in January.
Louise Cooper, analyst at CooperCity, commented:
In the first ten months of this year consumption of gas by retail customers was down 21 percent. That is a high level of volatility in what is supposed to be a steady business.
It will come as little surprise to Centrica to see its shares suffering – since Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked the industry in September last year at the Labour party conference, its shares have declined in value.

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