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The Business Matrix: Monday 27 June 2011

Ocado to break into profit at last

Nearly a year since floating – and a decade after it was founded – Ocado is set to announce its first net profit today. The online grocer is revealing its first-half figures, with few shocks expected given that it last updated the market in May. Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicts the group will have finished the period some £700,000 in the black.

Stagecoach moves up another gear

Stagecoach reveals its preliminary results on Wednesday, and despite the transport group having risen nearly 20 per cent since the start of the year, Morgan Stanley still believes the market’s expectations are too low. The broker estimates the company’s earnings per share will come in at 23.6p, 3 per cent ahead of the consensus forecast.

Standard is firing on all cylinders

Standard Chartered’s first-half, pre-close update on Tuesday is expected to show the bank continuing on from its update last month, says Citigroup, when its wholesale and consumer banking units impressed. The broker predicts that, apart from corporate finance activity, the group will see revenue growth across the board.

Waiting for the big plan at Lloyds

The pressure will be on Antonio Horta-Osório when the Lloyds Banking Group’s chief executive, who took over in March, reveals the conclusions of his strategic review on Thursday. Those hoping for big changes will be disappointed, believes Goldman Sachs, which says: “Mr Horta-Osório’s vision for the group will constitute evolution, not revolution.”

Hi-tech booms but investment lags

Business is booming in Britain’s hi-tech manufacturing sector, but concerns over the economic outlook are putting the brakes on investment, according to a survey. More than three-quarters of businesses in GE’s High Tech Manufacturing Index are positive about their current situation, but less than a third were upbeat on the economy.

House demand up as sellers get real

Demand for housing climbed by 10.6 per cent in June, according to Hometrack’s estate-agency survey. It found the boost was partly a rebound from a sluggish May but also that more sensible pricing by sellers was luring interest. However average property prices are 3.9 per cent down from prices at the same time last year.

Mutuals outstrip wider economy

Britain’s co-operative sector outperformed the wider UK economy last year. Co-operatives UK said the combined turnover of mutual organisations rose 4.4 per cent. The biggest growth was at employee-owned firms such as John Lewis, while customer-owned Co-operative Group was the biggest, with £14bn income.

Royal wedding boosts UK wine

British wine has had a surge in foreign sales after home-grown wine was served at the royal wedding, a currency broker said. Foreign transactions for UK vineyards have risen by 37 per cent, Currency UK said, adding there were more inquiries from UK vineyards looking for the best routes to the export market.

Stores resort to early sales

Retailers are resorting to early sales to lure shoppers discouraged from spending by economic gloom and the wet summer. Research by PwC found 70 per cent of stores had sale or advertising promotions in their windows. PwC said customer caution had set in after warm weather and the royal wedding drove sales in April and May.

Pension muddle deters young

Young people would save more for their retirement if they knew how much state pension they would get, a survey shows. Research for the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) found half of those aged 18 to 34 would boost their saving if they understood what they would receive from the state on retirement.

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