Utility giant Centrica sees shares lose spark
The FTSE 100 giant saw shares plunge more than 17 per cent at one stage after it revealed the customer exodus at its British/Scottish Gas arm and said results would also be hit by woes in its North American arm and warmer-than-normal weather in October and November.
It marked its biggest ever intra-day shares fall and took the stock down to levels not seen for 14 years.
The move by British Gas to hike electricity prices by 12.5 per cent in September contributed to the loss of customers between the end of June and end of October.
Britain’s biggest energy supplier now has 13.1 million customer accounts and 7.9 million customers.
All of the UK’s Big Six energy providers have been under pressure from smaller rivals as customers increasingly switch to get the best deal.
Centrica warned its earnings per share would be nearly a fifth lower than expected due to the British Gas woes as well as troubles in its North American arm, which is being hit by “highly competitive market conditions and low price volatility”.
The group said annual earnings in its British Gas business would only break even due to the account losses and a drop in demand for energy in the recent unseasonally warm autumn weather, although it said cost cutting had helped limit the profit impact.