British Gas owner Centrica's share price lights up after raising full-year earnings forecast

Francesca Washtell
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Centrica's share price has lit up like an energy-efficient light bulb (Source: Getty)

Centrica's share price lit up this morning after better-than-expected costing savings and a strong savings performance lifted its full-year earnings.

The British Gas owner's stock rose more than five per cent in morning trading to 230p, after announcing its full-year adjusted earnings per share will come in at around 16.5p.

The FTSE 100 utility's cash flow target is expected to be in the range of £2.4bn to £2.6bn, up from a target of £2bn, Centrica said in a trading update.

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Capital investment, including small acquisitions of less than £100m, will come in at around £900m, 10 per cent below a previously-set limit of £1bn.

Centrica, which is the UK's largest energy supplier, was boosted by a stronger second half performance in North America and cost savings from 3,000 job cuts, which were announced in April.

The group has made a number of acquisitions this year, including Energ-G and Danish firm Neas, but customer numbers plunged in the first half of this year. Centrica blamed a combination of weak commodity prices and warmer weather for a 13 per cent drop in revenue.

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The company said it has now distributed more than half a million of its smart home thermostat Hive hubs to customers in the UK and has started selling the units in North America. Customers can also now control their products through Amazon's Alexa Voice Service.

Iain Conn, group chief executive at Centrica, said:

We have made considerable progress in reshaping our portfolio and capabilities to deliver a robust platform for customer-focused growth.

The Centrica team has performed very well in extremely difficult circumstances. Looking forward we are committed to delivering high levels of customer service, a wide choice of innovative offers and products and enhancing our digital capabilities, as we provide energy and services to satisfy the changing needs of our customers.

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George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Centrica is refocusing on its significant downstream customer base and disposing of upstream assets, and this transformation is progressing nicely. Going forwards, this new strategy will mean significantly lower capital expenditure, which should make the group much more cash generative, especially with the £750m per annum of costs set to come out of the business by 2020."

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