Analysts had been predicting Centrica would make anything from £730million to £1.3billion in 2022. But the company said yesterday that it reckons this year’s haul will be at the top end of that, on an adjusted earnings per share basis. The admission – which follows bumper profits from oil giants BP and Shell – is likely to renew calls for a windfall tax on energy firms.
Centrica’s boost to profits is largely from its gas production arm and stake in nuclear power plants that have benefited from higher wholesale prices, as well as how much they have operated.
Its energy trading division has also done better than expected.
Profits at British Gas’s household supplier arm are believed to be broadly flat in the first four months of this year.
Last year Centrica made an adjusting operating profit of £948million.
At least one analyst is predicting the company could make as much as £1.4billion this year.
It came as the chairman of Tesco said there was an “overwhelming need” for a windfall tax on energy companies after seeing the supermarket’s customers “extremely stretched”.
Asked on BBC Radio 4 what he wanted to see in the Queen’s Speech, John Allan said: “First of all, I think action to help people cope with a very, very sharp increase in energy prices.
“It’s harder for people to mitigate energy than it is with food, and I think there’s an overwhelming case for a windfall tax on profits from those energy producers fed back to those most in need.”
He thought energy companies were “expecting” a windfall tax and doubted “they would be much fazed by it”.
Last week Shell announced profits nearly tripled to £7.3billion in the first three months of this year.
Days earlier, BP revealed it made £5billion in the same period.