On the Up: United Utilities

SHARES in United Utilities surged 8 per cent as the gas, electricity, water and telecommunications provider indicated that second-half profit rose 38 per cent on cost cutting and better than expected performances in its regulated businesses. It said its telecoms sales more than doubled and that it is making gains in attracting new customers for its energy services. It saved pounds 26m on costs during the year and is on track to meet its target of pounds 40m annual savings by the end of this year.

The company, which has just appointed a new chief executive, now has 325,000 customers signed up for gas through its Norweb Energi unit, more than double last year's total. It has also gained 34,000 new electricity customers outside its home supply area in north-west England.