SSE reports half-year energy retail loss

SSE has flagged a loss at its energy retail business in a half-year trading statement. The company has pledged to maintain its above inflation dividend increase for the full year.

The company attributes the loss to “higher wholesale gas costs and the heightened impact of fixed distribution and other costs, which themselves were rising, during the spring and summer period of lower energy consumption.” SSE expects its generation and networks businesses to report profits for the six months to 30 September 2013.

In a thinly-veiled reference to last week’s threat by Labour leader Ed Miliband to freeze energy company prices should Labour win the next general election, SSE financial director assured shareholders that the dividend policy would remain intact: “Despite the intensifying political debate, we will maintain our operational and financial discipline, to enable us to deliver an above-inflation increase in the dividend for this financial year and beyond,” he said.

The company forecasted overall pre tax profit for the half year will be down on the same period in the previous year.

Credit ratings agencies Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s have maintained their ratings on the company – the long term rating from S&P remains A- with a negative outlook while Moody’s stays at A3 with a stable outlook.