STOCKS TO WATCH: British Gas owner Centrica may ditch dividend

STOCKS TO WATCH: With British Gas owner Centrica set to post annual results, boss Chris O’Shea may ditch the dividend again

Centrica boss Chris O’Shea probably sleeps in a tin hat. The British Gas owner has been taking fire from all sides of late. 

O’Shea has been criticised for working from home as complaints soar. And British Gas apologised for failing to fix thousands of broken boilers. 

Centrica posts its annual results this week. 

Life’s a gas: Centrica profits are set to be about £1.6billion, which will irk those calling for a windfall tax on energy firms

Profits are set to be about £1.6billion, which will irk those calling for a windfall tax on energy firms. 

It should also show customer growth for the first time since 2010, after it snared stranded customers from bust rivals. 

But will it reinstate its divi? HSBC says the board must ‘consider the potential opprobrium of declaring a dividend’ amid rising bills. 

The bank reckons there will be no payout for a second year running. 

That would be a rare bout of sensitivity from an energy giant, but would enrage armchair investors who rely on the dividend. 

O’Shea may need to hunker down.

WPP investors hope company can profit from price increase messages 

Investors in WPP, which counts Mars and Uber as advertising clients, will hope that it can benefit from brands wanting to carefully manage their messaging to their customers on price increases as inflation rages. 

The advertising giant posts annual results this week. 

The shares are at a four-year high after recovering from a Covid shock but one large shareholder grumbles: ‘Is this a genuine recovery or just a dead cat bounce? It could easily be the latter.’ 

Barclays finance chief preparing annual results for the last time?

Barclays finance chief Tushar Morzaria will be preparing the bank’s annual results this week – possibly for the last time. 

Rumours are swirling through the City that his departure could be announced on Wednesday after nearly a decade as head of finance. 

Morzaria is a rarity: a banker respected by media and investors alike. He has helped drive the bank through rocky times. 

He joined under chief executive Antony Jenkins, who was ousted in 2015.

He then worked under Jes Staley, who quit last year to contest a Financial Conduct Authority report into his ties with sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. 

CS Venkatakrishnan, also ex-JPMorgan, took over, but Morzaria’s time under ‘Venkat’ may be limited if he is ready to pack his bags. 

Barclays declined to comment.  

Israel Englander’s hedge fund bet against Evraz

American investor Israel Englander began trading stocks in high school and is now worth $10billion. 

So perhaps it’s no surprise that his hedge fund, Millennium, has just executed a canny trade. 

It was the first short-seller in eight years to bet against shares in Russian steel and mining group Evraz earlier this month as tensions over Ukraine weighed on the stock. 

The Mail on Sunday revealed last weekend that Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich had seen £500million wiped off the value of his Evraz holding since late January while Millennium would have cashed in a tidy profit on its short-lived holding.