The Business Matrix: Monday 18 July 2011

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Kingfisher

The warm spring helped Kingfisher’s DIY arm, B&Q, increase sales by 1.5 per cent to £1.1bn in the first quarter, but brokers expect Thursday’s second-quarter data to show underlying sales down as much as 5 per cent since then. Analysts at Deutsche Bank also suggest that closing-down sales at rival Focus DIY could have pulled customers away, accounting for up to 3 per cent of any decline.

Vodafone

The mobile phone giant Vodafone is tipped to report slowing growth in its update on Friday as cuts in termination rates and poor trading in southern Europe – especially Spain – have an impact. Its CEO Vittorio Colao has been focused on selling stakes in companies where the group does not have control; with that complete he can now turn his full attention to the underperforming areas of the firm.

SThree

First-half numbers from SThree today follow recent results from rival recruiters Michael Page and Hays that have relied on overseas operations to drive growth. SThree, which specialises in communications and technology hirings, is also expected to have found the UK market tough, although analysts at Peel Hunt are holding out hopes for its operations in the Netherlands.

Eurotunnel

The Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel was bullish in April when it reported a “substantial” uptick in bookings related to the Easter break and additional bank holiday. These factors should show through in the quarterly statement on Friday. It has already posted a 24 per cent rise in first-quarter revenues as the number of cars using its shuttle service rose by 7 per cent.

Richard Cordray to head CFPB in US

President Barack Obama disappointed liberals by failing to appoint Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor, to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The White House instead announced that the CFPB’s first director will be Richard Cordray, a former Attorney General of Ohio.

Big Mac tastes profits rise in UK

McDonald’s UK grew profits by more than one-third in 2010, driven by a strong rise in demand for its food from new customers. The fast-food chain posted pre-tax profits up 38 per cent to £157m in the 12 months to December, on sales up 5 per cent to £1.2bn. It says it has served 25m more people in the first quarter of 2011.

Lack of bank loans hit small law firms

Britain’s small law firms are the latest to feel the squeeze from constraints on bank lending, an independent finance provider said today, with the number of sole practitioner solicitors falling by almost a tenth over the past year. Syscap said there are under 3,700 small law firms in Britain, down from just over 4,050 a year ago.

Sales soar at London’s shops

London’s retailers posted their strongest sales rise for 15 months in June, as overseas visitors continue to help them massively outperform those in the rest of the UK, according to the New West End Company. Like-for-like sales in London surged by 11 per cent in June, compared with a fall of 0.6 per cent for the UK as a whole.

Bonus bonanza at Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs, the investment banking giant, is expected to say this week it has allocated a bonus pot worth $3.9bn ($2.4bn) for bankers in its second quarter. However, the Wall Street bank’s compensation pool for its latest quarter is forecast to be less than the $5.2bn it set aside for staff in the previous three months.

Debt crisis ‘will hit UK growth’

The sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone will drag UK economic growth down to just 1.4 per cent this year. The Ernst & Young Item Club said the crisis and global concerns were raising uncertainty among the business and investment community, as it slashed its forecast for 2011 down from 1.8 per cent.

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