UPDATE 1-Telecom Plus first-half profit rises

Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:01am EST

Nov 20 (Reuters) - British utility Telecom Plus Plc reported an 8 percent rise in first-half profit as it added more customers and said it expects to post a record profit and turnover for the year.

The company, which provides gas, electricity, fixed line telephone and broadband internet services, said customer numbers rose by 22,657 to 438,146 during the six months ended Sept. 30.

Telecom Plus also said the second half of the fiscal year was off to a strong start and that it had taken advantage of recent price hikes by larger energy suppliers by positioning itself more competitively.

High utility bills have been a major driver of household expenditure in the United Kingdom at a time when Britons are coping with the biggest drop in disposable incomes for more than 30 years.

On Tuesday, the government announced plans to limit energy suppliers to a maximum of four tariffs on gas or electricity to improve transparency and help customers find the cheapest deal in the government's latest attempt to tackle rising prices for consumers.

For the first half, Telecom Plus reported a pretax profit of 12.1 million pounds ($19.3 million), up from 11.1 million pounds a year earlier. Revenue increased 30 percent to 210 million pounds.

The company raised its interim dividend to 13 pence from 10 pence a year earlier.