BRITISH Gas owner Centrica beat forecasts yesterday by posting a first-half operating profit of £1.56bn.
Profit rose 65 per cent in the last six months, bolstered by the UK’s coldest winter in 30 years upping energy consumption.
Revenues for the period were comparable to the same time last year, at £11.7bn, though the firm added around 223,000 new customers after cutting prices in February.
The severe weather also created extra work for British Gas engineers, who fixed up to 35,000 boilers a day during the winter.
Nick Luff, finance director, said: “The key driver of the UK business was again the downstream residential sector, but all divisions reported better results than this time last year. But UK gas prices were unusually low last winter, despite increased demand.”
The profit included first-time contributions from Centrica’s acquisitions of North Sea gas producer Venture Production and British Energy, and the newly commissioned gas-fired Langage power station –?part of its strategy to expand into both wholesale energy and household services to limit the impact of fluctuating gas prices.
Underlying profits in the group’s fledgling US business also rose by 25 per cent.
“The strong results for the group highlight that, as an integrated utility, Centrica is well positioned to cope with a volatile wholesale energy price environment,” said Killick & Co analyst Jonathan Jackson.