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The Business Matrix: Monday 18 April 2011

Tesco

Analysts believe Tesco was badly hit by the weather at Christmas, and rival supermarkets’ recent figures have also highlighted how tough trading has been since then. The new chief executive, Philip Clarke, is nonetheless expected to unveil another record year for Tesco tomorrow. The City is expecting underlying profits of £3.8bn against £3.4bn a year ago.

Home Retail Group

The owner of the catalogue chain Argos is expected to add to the gloom on the high street when it reveals its full-year results on Wednesday. Home Retail Group, which also owns Homebase, has cut forecasts as it battles with “difficult and volatile” conditions. It steered City expectations towards profits of £250m-£255m, down 14 per cent on a year ago.

Burberry

Burberry is expected to provide an insight into how the catastrophes in Japan has affected its business when it updates its investors tomorrow. Analysts at RBS believe the fashion house’s earnings could be hit by 5 per cent if Burberry decides to waive the £50m a year licensing revenues it receives from its dealer in Japan as a result of the disasters there.

RBS

Bonuses and the Independent Commission on Banking’s recent report are set to top the agenda when Royal Bank of Scotland faces its shareholders tomorrow. The advisory group Pirc has already attacked the part-nationalised bank’s executive pay and bonus plans as “excessive”, and is recommending that investors oppose the remuneration report.

Reckitt Benckiser

First-quarter figures from Reckitt Benckiser will put the consumer goods giant in the spotlight again on Wednesday after the surprise news that Bart Becht is to retire after 16 years as chief executive. Analysts at RBS expect flat sales in Europe and North America to be offset by developing markets. Rising costs are expected to hit the Slough-based firm’s margins.

Bunzl

Bunzl’s interim management statement on Wednesday is the distribution group’s first update since it was relegated to the FTSE 250 last month. Although Shore Capital notes that it is “seemingly unloved by many investors”, the broker is still a fan, describing it as “predictable” and saying there could be news about acquisitions.

Glencore valued at up to $69bn

Glencore, the commodities trader which is looking to raise $11bn (£6.7bn) in a flotation planned for next month, is already worth up to $69bn (£42.3bn) and its earnings are likely to double within two years, according to research by the two banks underwriting the potentially record-breaking listing. Analysts at Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse also forecast rapid growth in key measures of profitability at the company.

Saudis cut crude output in March

Saudi Arabia cut its oil production in March, the kingdom’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, revealed yesterday, claiming the world market was oversupplied. “The market has overbalanced,” he said. Last month, the leading member of the Opec cartel produced 8.292 million barrels per day, down from 9.125 million in February. “In April, we don’t know yet, [it will be] probably a little higher than March,” Mr al-Naimi added.

Online poker owners charged

The owners of three online poker companies active in the US have been charged with violating the country’s anti-internet gambling laws, according to filings by federal prosecutors. Eleven people were charged, including the owners of Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars, with prosecutors also filing civil money-laundering charges seeking up to $3bn from the companies.

Call for new rules on sustainability

A lack of meaningful benchmarks often stands in the way of companies making progress in their corporate sustainability strategies, according to a new survey from KPMG. Two-thirds of those polled believed a new set of rules was “either very important or critical”. In the current economic climate, short-term financial priorities were the largest barrier, followed by the risk of higher costs.

Geithner: US debt limit must go up

The US Congress will have to raise the country’s debt limit, and may need to do so before a deal on future budget deficits is agreed, the US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, said yesterday. Earlier this month, he wrote to Congressional leaders warning that the current $14.3trillion debt limit would be reached by 16 May.

‘No grounds’ for Iceland ratings cut

Iceland’s finance minister, Steingrimur Sigfusson, has warned that a lowering of the country’s credit ratings would be unjustified, as the island nation’s economy was “doing quite well”. His comments came after the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s warned about the country’s credit standing last week.

IMF highlights inflation risks

The International Monetary Fund has signalled greater vigilance of inflation in emerging markets, with Singapore’s finance minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who chair’s the fund’s steering committee, saying that when inflation goes up in emerging markets, “it’s a global inflation and possibly interest rate problem”.

Restructuring plan for Greece denied

The German finance ministry has denied reports that it is drawing up plans for a restructuring of Greece’s debt. Separately, the Greek finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, also denied any such moves. “Restructuring is simply not on the cards,” he said. “We will be able to go back to the markets in 2012.”

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