Investments help British Gas owner Centrica beat forecasts

City A.M. Reporter
UTILITY group Centrica, which owns the British Gas brand, said yesterday it was reaping the benefits of recent investments in infrastructure as it reported a rise in first-half earnings which beat market forecasts.

Profits were boosted by new investments that increased production capacities, Centrica said, one day after it confirmed a £1.4bn investment in the Cygnus gas field following the government’s announcement of a new North Sea tax break.

Centrica said earnings per share (EPS) for the six months ending 30 June rose 14 per cent from last year to 14.80p.

The utility’s UK upstream profits rose 28 per cent to £682m, despite generating 20 per cent less electricity than the same time last year.

Centrica said economic conditions remained challenging and that its full-year earnings were expected to be weighted towards the first half of the year, but added it still saw growth for the year.

“For the full year, we expect to deliver further earnings growth, subject to the usual variables of weather patterns, commodity price movements, production performance and the competitive environment,” the company said in a statement, raising its interim dividend by eight per cent to 4.62p.

The company’s nuclear power assets contributed to most of its power business profits and Centrica said it expected a seven-year life extension on nuclear plants it holds shares in.