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The Business Matrix: Monday 9 May 2011

EasyJet

EasyJet has already warned its first-half losses, set to be unveiled on Tuesday, could be as high as £160m, thanks to rising fuel costs and falling consumer spending. The budget airline may also reveal that some of its routes to Egypt were disrupted by the uprisings in the Arab world. But it is expected to have won passengers from more expensive rivals.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s is expected to dispel some of the gloom surrounding the supermarket sector by posting an 8 per cent rise in profits on Wednesday. But after it recently warned final-quarter sales were up just 1 per cent, investors will be looking at its recent sales performance, hoping it received a boost from the Easter break.

Thomas Cook/TUI

Thomas Cook, on Monday and rival TUI Travel, on Tuesday are expected to report bigger losses after the Arab uprisings caused holidaymakers to cancel bookings. But the tour operators could also reveal that the royal wedding provided a boost as consumers only had to take three days’ leave to get 11 days off work, encouraging many to take an Easter break.

HSBC

HSBC will unveil first-quarter figures on Monday and update the market on its strategy on Wednesday in a move which could see it close branches and cut jobs in its UK retail arm. The bank’s new chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, recently said the management team was stepping up discipline on cost control.

EEF call for review of renewable goals

Manufacturers will today call on the Government to reconsider targets for the growth of renewable energy, following a report from the independent Committee on Climate Change that claims it may be too expensive. The EEF manufacturers’ organisation said warnings that renewable energy would remain more costly than the alternatives for many years to come should prompt ministers to consider other opportunities.

Slower growth in regional activity

Business activity across five English regions grew at its slowest pace since the beginning of the year in April, with the Yorkshire and Humber area suffering a “particularly steep slowdown”, according to a survey. The Lloyds TSB regional purchasing managers’ index for April, published today, also shows that the Southeast saw the fastest rise in the pace of growth in business activity last month.

National Express nears Elliott truce

National Express, which last week put on a show of strength with news of rising profits amid calls by its biggest shareholder for strategic changes, is close to striking a deal with the dissenting investor before its annual meeting tomorrow. The truce with Elliott Advisors, the US hedge fund which owns about 18 per cent of the bus, train and coach company, could be agreed as early as today.

Management ban for Phoenix Four

The former MG Rover directors know as the “Phoenix Four” have undertaken not to act in management roles for a number of years. Peter Beale has been disqualified six years, John Edwards for three years, and John Towers and Nick Stephenson for five years each.

Rank turns down Guoco proposal

The bingo operator Rank has advised its shareholders to reject the 150p per share offer from its largest investor, saying that it undervalues the company. On Friday, Guoco – an investment holding firm controlled by Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan – acquired an 11.6 per cent stake in Rank, thus increasing its shareholding to 40.8 per cent and triggering a mandatory offer.

JP Morgan raises oil price forecasts

JP Morgan analysts have raised their oil price forecasts by $10, predicting $120 per barrel for Brent for both this year and next. The move came on the heels of a sharp correction last week, with oil declining amid worries about global growth.

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