Recently caught up in a scandal where bailiffs were breaking into people’s homes to fit pre-payment meters, today’s results from Centrica will do nothing to dial down the heat on the company.
Talk of more aggressive windfall taxes seems inevitable.
Investors in the company might argue after years of disappointing returns they are due some bumper rewards.
However, the fact a big driver of Centrica’s soaring earnings and cash flow is the energy crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine will sit uncomfortably with many struggling to heat their homes.
AJ Bell’s Russ Mould said: “It is fair to acknowledge that most of the company’s record profit came not from its retail-facing British Gas business but from its energy trading division as well as its oil and gas and nuclear assets, but casual observers are unlikely to make the distinction.
“Whether fair or not the argument will be made the company is taking money out of the pockets of billpayers and doling it out to shareholders.
“Given British Gas is the UK’s largest energy supplier, the company also faces significant risks associated with customers being unable to pay their bills.
“Centrica has demonstrated it can perform well when conditions are heavily weighted in its favour. To really win the market over it needs to do the same when it is not getting such a big external boost.”