13 Jul 2011

Contact shares languish as it loses customers

7:53 am on 13 July 2011

Contact Energy's share price is languishing at seven-year lows as it continues to haemorrhage customers.

Shares in the country's largest listed power company fell 5 cents on Tuesday to $5.23.

The company had more than 500,000 electricity customers in 2008, but that has fallen to about 450,000 as Government-mandated asset swaps among state-owned generators has fueled competition.

The Electricity Authority's awareness campaign about prices has led to a jump in users switching power companies, and Contact shed another 7679 customers last month.

Generation prices are down due to hydro lakes being full, which has also hindered Contact.

The head of private wealth at Craigs Investment Partners, Mark Lister, says retail churn levels and the impact of rainfall on wholesale prices are all short term factors.

However the company is making the right long-term decisions in managing its asset base and adding capacity where it is needed.

Mr Lister says Contact's plans to expand its geothermal plans and store gas should stand it in good stead in the longer term.