United Utilities shares up as profit, dividend rise

Shares of Warrington-based water giant United Utilities rose about 4% on Wednesday after it published results for the six months to September 30.

United Utilities proposed an interim dividend of 14.41p per share, up 1.5% from last year.

First-half profit before tax profit rose about 3% to £201.1 million, while revenue fell about 4.4% to £894.4 million.

Full-year 2020-21 revenue is expected to be in the range of £1.75 billion to £1.8 billion, compared with £1.86 billion last year, United Utilities said.

The company’s net debt at September 30, 2020, was £7.396 billion, up from £7.361 million at March 31, 2020.

United Utilities CEO Steve Mogford said: “Our focus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been on supporting customers, protecting our colleagues and maintaining essential services.

“We have continued to provide high quality water and wastewater services to more than three million households in the North West thanks to the extraordinary hard work and dedication of my colleagues, many of whom are key workers.

“Average customer bills have reduced by 7 per cent in real terms this year but we recognise that for many in our region, these are still challenging times.

“For those struggling to pay their bills, we offer the sector’s widest range of financial assistance schemes.

“We have also acted swiftly to increase the number of customers eligible for reduced tariffs.

“Despite the pandemic, our operational performance in this first year of the new regulatory period is on track.

“We are accelerating our capital expenditure to bring forward benefits and help support 17,700 jobs in the supply chain.

“We recognise the role that we can play in a successful society, economy and a thriving natural environment and are confident in our ability to deliver our AMP7 plans to achieve this.

“We now have a clearer understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on our business which remains robust and supported by a strong balance sheet.

“This, together with a stabilised inflation outlook supported by central bank policy and government actions, gives us the confidence to reaffirm our responsible AMP7 dividend policy of growth in line with CPIH inflation.”