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Scottish rivals

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The Scottish power market is expected to be in the spotlight this week with both Glasgow-based ScottishPower and Perth-based Scottish and Southern Energy publishing interim results, reports The Scotsman.

Fund manager Gerrard expects ScottishPower to post pre-tax profits of £423m against £393m last time, while SSE is tipped to turn in an 11% rise in profits to £255m.

SSE should post a good first half, buoyed by rising wholesale electricity prices, its investment in renewable energy and cost controls. The group has benefited from increased contributions from its non-core operations, in particular contracting and gas storage.

According to analysts, the firm is set to reveal that it has been stealing up to 10,000 new customers a week from its rivals as a result of its decision to freeze prices until the end of this year at least.

The steady inflow means its customer base looks likely to have swelled to 5.75 million and SSE is closing fast on market leaders Centrica, German-controlled RWE (npower) and the energy conglomerate Electricité de France.

ScottishPower was once seen as the clearly dominant Scot, with Perth’s SSE (the former Scottish Hydro-Electric) the less ambitious neighbour, but shares in SSE have raced ahead 24% since the start of the year, giving it a market cap of £7.14bn against SP’s 17% (£8.15bn), and Marchant is expected to reveal half-time profits up 11% to £255m, against a more modest 7.5% at SP to £423m.

ScottishPower saw an improved first-half operational performance compared to last year. The group is set to report a reasonably flat second quarter from its north American arm Pacificorp, but better profits in the UK.

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