Centrica Profit to Be Lower Than Expected After Warm Winter

Centrica Plc, the U.K.’s largest energy supplier to households, said 2014 earnings will be lower than estimated after a warm winter cut gas demand.

Centrica expects adjusted earnings per share of 22 pence to 23 pence (37 U.S. cents to 39 U.S. cents) for the full year. Analysts had expected 25 pence a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average customer bill in the U.K. was 10 percent lower than last winter, the Windsor, England-based company said today in a statement.

“We still worry that if gas price stays low retailers may actually be forced into a retail price cut, which would further hit earnings,” analysts at Deutsche Bank AG wrote in a note. “The dividend and buyback offer some support, but the shares look unattractive.”

Centrica shares dropped 2 percent to 320.4 pence in London, the lowest since March 4, valuing the company at 16 billion pounds.

“The combination of mild weather, and our expectation that we will not change energy prices this year, means the average British Gas household energy bill is expected to be lower in 2014 than in 2013,” Chief Executive Officer Sam Laidlaw said in the statement.

Because large gas-fired power stations are losing money, Centrica has decided to review the future of three of its larger U.K. plants. Options include bringing in partners, leasing the plants out and outright sale, Chief Financial Officer Nick Luff said on a call with reporters.

Centrica announced Qatar Petroleum International will buy 40 percent of its Canadian Natural Gas business for C$200 million ($184 million). The assets will be placed into an existing joint venture between the two companies, CQ Energy Canada Partnership.

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