Centrica says net profits triple in 2012

British energy company Centrica on Wednesday said that the group's net profits more than tripled in 2012 thanks to price hikes for energy and higher gas demand amid colder weather in Britain.

Earnings after tax rocketed to £1.273 billion ($1.92 billion, 1.47 billion euros) last year from 421 million in 2011, Centrica said in a results statement.

However, that undershot market expectations for net profit of £1.36 billion according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

The London-listed firm, which owns domestic energy supplier British Gas, added that revenues grew by five percent to £23.9 billion in 2012.

"In the UK the year brought many challenges, with periods of colder weather compared to the very mild conditions of 2011 contributing to higher energy bills," said Centrica chairman Roger Carr.

British gas also hiked its gas and electricity prices by substantial amounts last year compared with costs passed on to customers in 2011.

The group has already indicated that it would return money to shareholders via a £500-million share repurchase programme over the next 12 months.