SSE expects profit growth despite falling customer numbers

Utilities group SSE said on Thursday that it is on course to deliver increases in both adjusted profits and its dividend this year despite a slight fall in the number of customer accounts during the first nine months.

Utilities group SSE said on Thursday that it is on course to deliver increases in both adjusted profits and its dividend this year despite a slight fall in the number of customer accounts during the first nine months.

The company expects the grow adjusted profit before tax by 4-5% in the year to March 31st 2013 with all three divisions - Networks, Retail and Wholesale - being profitable during the year.

SSE also said that its full-year dividend will likely increase by at least 2.0% more than RPI inflation to 84p per share.

The news comes just over a week after the firm announced the departure of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ian Marchant, who stepped down after 10 years in the job. He will be replaced by Deputy CEO Alistair Phillips-Davies this summer.

The firm said that the number of its electricity and gas customer accounts in Great Britain and Ireland in the nine months to December 31st fell from 9.55m to 9.46m, despite the inclusion of 130,000 customer gained through the acquisition of Phoenix Holdings (completed last summer).

While the average consumption of electricity and gas by SSE's household customers increased during the period, due to colder weather than the year before, there was a slight underlying reduction in both electricity and gas consumption overall, the group said.

Outgoing CEO Ian Marchant said: "This financial year has been characterised by continuing economic uncertainty and challenging energy market conditions which have affected energy customers and electricity producers alike.

"SSE's balanced model of market-based and economically-regulated businesses and strategy of focusing on operations and investments in these businesses is again proving to be robust. The overall performance of the company has been good in 2012/13 and I'm pleased that SSE is on course to deliver further growth in the dividend and an encouraging increase in adjusted profit before tax in this financial year."

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