British Gas owner Centrica predicts a sevenfold rise in profits as it cashes in on soaring energy prices
British Gas owner Centrica has predicted a rise in profits of more than sevenfold for 2022 after it cashed in on booming energy prices.
The FTSE 100 group said it would deliver earnings for the year of 30p per share, equivalent to nearly £1.8billion and a massive increase on the £237million generated in 2021.
It ended 2022 with over £1billion in cash, well above market forecasts of £725million.
Profits boom: British Gas owner Centrica said it would deliver earnings for the year of 30p per share, equivalent to nearly £1.8bn and a massive increase on the £237m generated in 2021
Meanwhile, Centrica announced that Russell O’Brien, a former Shell executive, would take over as chief financial officer in March, replacing Kate Ringrose.
The shares jumped 3.8 per cent, or 3.5p, to 95.3p.
‘Higher energy prices are not bad news for everyone,’ said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.
However he noted it was an ‘open question’ about how much Centrica’s success was down to its own actions rather than the movements of global energy markets.
But the windfall could further inflame anger over energy companies’ huge profits while UK households struggle with surging bills following a spike in international fuel prices sparked by the war in Ukraine.
‘While the public freezes and relies on warm banks and food banks to get by, energy firms are laughing all the way to their own banks,’ said Simon Francis, of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.
He called on the Government to revisit its windfall taxes and ‘close the loopholes so that those profiting from the energy bills crisis fund the additional support needed to keep people warm and businesses afloat’.
Centrica has come under fire due to its status as the UK’s largest household electricity and gas supplier.
Last February, boss Chris O’Shea waived a £1.1million bonus to assuage public anger over rising bills, and it faced renewed criticism in July when it reinstated its dividend after a rise in half-year profits.
The firm has attempted to alleviate the negative publicity by making a £50million payment to help customers with the cost of living squeeze.