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Business Analysis & Features

The Week Ahead: A toast to Majestic despite flat profits

Investors may want to toast Majestic Wine's performance but it won't be with an expensive vintage, more a cheap glass of plonk. It will tout the resilience of its business model this week, despite flat profits in the wake of tougher trading for the chain. The wine warehouse retailer will also reaffirm that it plans to open a similar number of stores this financial year to the 16 it introduced last year.

Majestic is expected to have grown profits by a smidgen to £23.6m from £23.2m over the year to March, according to Investec, reflecting a slowdown in its sales growth. But its model of eschewing high streets and investing heavily in staff training has made it one of the retail sector's most reliable listed stocks over the past decade.

Results/Updates: Essar Energy, Majestic Wine, Immunodiagnostic Systems, City of London Investment Group.


Whitbread's first-quarter trading update is out tomorrow, and any recent dips in temperature are likely to have been both a positive and a negative for the leisure giant. Unseasonably cold weather may have helped Costa Coffee, says Keith Bowman at Hargreaves Lansdown, but it should also have held back sales at its pubs and restaurants. Meanwhile, Whitbread's Premier Inn business is "again likely to report both total and like-for-like sales growth", predicts the analyst.

Another in the spotlight tomorrow will be Crest Nicholson, the housebuilder which floated in February and last week had its entry into the FTSE 250 confirmed. Numis Securities' Chris Millington is expecting good news, predicting the group will confirm "that sales rates have accelerated since the launch of the Help to Buy scheme".

Results/Updates: Aggreko, Chemring, Crest Nicholson, Daisy Group, Whitbread, First Derivatives.


The start of 2013 couldn't have come much tougher for the housing developer Berkeley than a helicopter crashing into a crane working on one of its biggest schemes. But after that disaster at the Vauxhall tower project in January Berkeley's shares have been on the march, from around 1,800p to a peak of closer to 2,200p in May. Scribblers at Numis believe that Berkeley will reveal a pre-tax profit of more than £250m in Wednesday's full-year figures, up from £214.8m. They think Berkeley will have benefited from "rapidly rising average sales prices".

Darty, the former owner of the now-defunct electrical retail chain Comet, also unveils its annual results on Wednesday. Investors will hope that the chairman, Alan Parker, can offer some good news, particularly after closing Spanish operations at a cost of €30m (£25m) earlier this year.

Results/Updates: Berkeley, Darty, Spirit Pub company, Micro Focus International, bwin.party digital entertainment, Braemar Shipping Services, UK Commercial Property Trust.


Dixons Retail will boast a significantly healthier bottom line this week, boosted by the collapse of its biggest rival, Comet, before Christmas. The owner of the Currys and PC World chains is expected to deliver a 31 per cent leap in profits to £93m over the year to 30 April, according to Citi, with the joint house broker forecasting a further jump to £130m in 2013-14.

Dixons ended the year strongly. But it was not all plain sailing and the City will scrutinise comments by the chief executive, Sebastian James, about its weaker businesses in Italy and Greece, as well as its troubled online retailer Pixmania.

Analysts at Espirito Santo said: "We believe Dixons is still in the early stages of a recovery and that profit before tax could double over the next two years."

Results/Updates: Ashtead, Dixons Retail, Go-Ahead, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, Ted Baker, SABMiller.


Flybe lands with its final results. The airline last month sold its 25 Gatwick inbound and outbound flying slots and has updated the market on its restructuring plan, including cost cutting, liquidity improvement and network philosophy. Analysts expect it to detail this plan further at the results.

Results/Updates: Flybe.