The Business Matrix: Monday 20 February 2012


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The Independent Online


Barratt to build for the future

The reporting season for housebuilders continues with Barratt Development's interim figures on Wednesday. Thanks to its update last month, we know the group expects operating profits over the period to have risen 40 per cent, so a key factor will be whether it believes it can continue at this level.

Drax hit by risein coal costs

Drax announces its full-year results tomorrow and Deutsche Bank is expecting its operating profits to have fallen over 20 per cent to £267m thanks largely to an increase in coal costs. But the City will be more interested in the Government's future decision on continued support for producing renewable electricity.

Good news for tobacco giant

After Imperial Tobacco released its first-quarter figures earlier in the month, it is British American Tobacco's turn to update the market on Thursday. Citigroup believes the group will announce earnings-per-share for the year of 194p, which would be a jump of 10.4 per cent from the previous 12 months.

Lloyds to reveal full-year results

Lloyds Banking Group will report its full-year results this week, with boss Antonio Horta-Osorio at the helm having missed the group's last update in November when he was on sick leave. One of the key areas of focus, according to Morgan Stanley's Chris Manners, will be impairment charges.

UK customers among fussiest

The UK insurance industry is coming under fire from consumers, as British customers become increasingly demanding, according to a report. The number of British consumers who change insurance suppliers is double the European average. It is on the rise as the growth of the internet makes it easier to compare deals between rival suppliers, according to Ernst & Young's Insurance Consumer Survey, of 24,000 people across the continent.

Challenge to 'big four' dominance

The major challengers to the big four accountants have told the Competition Commission that the audit market for listed companies must be opened up. The commission is holding an inquiry into the dominance of KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and Price water house Coopers in examining the accounts of publicly traded companies. They audit all but one of the firms in the FTSE 100. The exception is Randgold Resources, which uses BDO Stoy Hayward.

The Independent on Sunday

British Gas owner stokes anger The backlash against the "Big Six" energy providers will intensify this week when British Gas-owner Centrica announces a profit leap in the face of growing fuel poverty and high utility bills. Centrica is expected to unveil a group profit of about £2.5bn for 2011 on Thursday, up 20 per cent.

The Sunday Telegraph

HSBC set to snub £20bn aid plan HSBC is considering walking away from George Osborne's plans to inject £20bn into the UK economy in what could be a major blow to the Chancellor's hopes of reviving growth. The bank is understood to feel that the Chancellors loan guarantee scheme is too expensive.

The Mail on Sunday

Bookies raise the stakes on loyalty Bookmakers are planning loyalty card schemes in a move condemned by opponents as "reprehensible" amid fears they could encourage problem gambling. Ladbrokes, for example, is expanding its "Odds On" loyalty card from over-the-counter bets to fixed-odds betting terminals.

The Sunday Times

£4bn losses for bailed-out banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, bailed out by the government at the height of the financial crisis, will this week reveal combined losses of at least £4bn. The deficit will revive fears that taxpayers will have to wait several more years to recoup their £66bn investment.