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Centrica’s First-Half Profit Rises on Higher Gas Consumption

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Centrica Plc, the largest energy supplier to U.K. households, said first-half profit rose because of higher gas consumption during a prolonged cold winter.

Adjusted earnings advanced to 767 million pounds ($1.2 billion) from a revised 753 million pounds a year earlier, the Windsor, England-based company said today in a statement. That beat the median estimate of 719 million pounds from four analysts in a Bloomberg News survey.

“Against a backdrop of sustained cold weather, average residential gas consumption was up 13 percent compared to last year and significantly above seasonal normal levels,” Centrica said in the statement.

Operating profit at Centrica’s British Gas residential unit was “marginally” higher than a year earlier, with higher environmental and commodity costs offsetting increased consumption.

Centrica in June bought a 25 percent stake in Cuadrilla Resources Ltd.’s shale gas licenses in northern England for 40 million pounds in cash. In April, it agreed to purchase, with state-run Qatar Petroleum, natural gas fields from Canada’s Suncor Energy Inc.

The company plans to double profitability in North America within five years and yesterday agreed to buy Hess Corp.’s energy marketing unit for $731 million in cash.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nidaa Bakhsh in London at nbakhsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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