Centrica Falls to 15-Month Low on Customer Exodus, Warm Weather

  • Company does not believe in any form of price regulation
  • Trading statement before meeting seen by RBC as ‘negative’

Centrica Plc, the U.K.’s biggest energy supplier, fell to the lowest in more than a year after customer losses continued this year and warm weather trimmed consumption of natural gas and power.

The utility reiterated its opposition to price regulation, which would reduce competition, cut choice and lead to potentially higher average prices, according to a trading update before its annual general meeting later on Monday. Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to cut the stranglehold of the country’s six biggest utilities on the energy market as five of them announced price rises this year.

The company’s trading statement “reads as a small negative,” John Musk, an analyst with RBC Europe Ltd. in London, said in an emailed note.

Centrica fell as much as 2.5 percent to 193.7 pence, the lowest since February 2016, before trading at 195.3 pence at 8:27 a.m. in London. The stock has fallen 17 percent this year, the worst performer in the Stoxx 600 Utilities Index, which rose 7.6 percent.

Centrica lost 261,000 household energy customers so far this year. In February, Centrica’s British Gas unit extended a price freeze until August.

The utility is targeting a headcount reduction of about 1,500 people this year as it seeks to cut yearly controllable costs by about 3 percent to 4.55 billion pounds ($5.9 billion).

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