Centrica issues second profits warning in six months

British energy supplier Centrica on Thursday issued its second profits warning within the last six months, admitting its profits could be 10 per cent lower than market expectations this year.

Centrica also revealed that nearly 180,000 households in the UK had quit its domestic arm British Gas, while mild winter enabled its remaining customers to cut down on the heating bills.

The year of 2014 will likely be the first year since 2009 in which the UK's biggest domestic supplier will not have hiked bills. In autumn last year, the company had raised bills for its dual-fuel customers by 9.2 per cent.

Commenting on the profits warning, Whitman Howard's Angelos Anastasiou said, "A profit warning is never good news, but it will perhaps highlight that UK energy supply is not just a 'money for old rope' business - a fact that might be welcome ahead of the Competition investigation set to start in July."

The energy giant also confirmed that it would put its loss-making three biggest gas-fired power plants, viz. Langage, Killingholme and Humber, up for sale. The three power plants collectively are producing 2.7gigawatts of energy, worth around £500 million.

Following the announcement of profits warning, Centrica shares slipped 6.4p to close at 320.4p apiece.