The Week Ahead: Broker forecasts Tesco sales to be up 11 per cent

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The Independent Online

For a second week the UK's corporate calendar is dominated by the retail sector.

Tomorrow, all eyes will fall on Tesco, which is due to tell the City just how well it has done over Christmas.

Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein believes the supermarket giant has had a good time over the festive period. For the seven weeks to 7 January it expects Tesco to unveil an 11 per cent rise in UK sales and a staggering 21 per cent increase at its international division. This represents a slight slowdown on the growth Tesco recorded in the third quarter and is largely to do with a modest weakening in Asia (particularly in Korea).

Nevertheless, investors are unlikely to complain as overall the group is set to boast of an increase in total sales of around 14 per cent.

Recent industry data showed that despite the subdued behaviour of the UK consumer, Tesco's seemingly unstoppable market share gains have continued apace. The company now controls 30.5 per cent of Britain's food retail industry.

TODAY: Results: Full year - None. Interims - Murgitroyd Group; Spice Holdings. Trading statements - Monsoon.

TOMORROW: We already know Thorntons had a bad Christmas. At the start of the month the chocolate retailer put out a trading statement complaining of challenging conditions and said that like-for-like sales at its stores for the 26 weeks to 24 December had declined by 4.9 per cent.

The full details of how this has affected profitability at Thorntons will be known this week, when the group posts its interim figures.

However, the short-term trading performance of the group is something of a sideshow at present. During the summer, Christopher Burnett, chairman of Thorntons, said he was considering a 185p a share bid for the retailer. Talks have been ongoing and investors will be keen to know whether Mr Burnett has managed to secure the financing for his offer. Should he come out with a formal bid, analysts believe there is a possibility that the Icelandic retailer Baugur will also throw its hat into the ring as it attempts to find complementary brands to go with its recently-acquired Whittard chain.

Results: Full year - Wogen. Interims - Halladale; Pace Micro; PKL Holdings; Thorntons. Trading statements - Tesco; Blacks Leisure; JD Group.

WEDNESDAY: DSG International, formerly called Dixons, will report both interim results and its Christmas trading statement. At the pre-tax profit level, brokers expect the electricals retail to report a retreat for the first half - probably to around £95m from £116m last time around. If any part of the DSG portfolio is going to surprise on the upside it will be Dixons and Currys and it will be thanks to strong demand in the UK for hot products such as flat panel TVs, games consoles and MP3 players.

Life at PC World and PC City is likely to be less rosy given the tumbling prices of PCs these days. As far as DSG's international division is concerned, investors can expect a sparking performance by its Ireland business where like-for-like sales are tipped to rise by as much as 10 per cent during the first half.

These are good times for IT services companies according to Barclays Stockbrokers, and this should be reflected in an upbeat statement from LogicaCMG. Barclays expects the company to say that the integration of its Unilog acquisition is going very well, but has warned that Logica's German business could once again prove to be something of a sore spot.

Results: Full year - None. Interims - DSG International; DTZ Holdings; Bespak. Trading statement - Woolworths. LogicaCMG.

THURSDAY: The retailer Kesa Electricals last updated the City back in November, when its French businesses - Darty and BUT - greatly disappointed. Things are unlikely to have improved much since then.

In a preview of this week's trading update, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein warned: "Short-term trends are expected to remain weak in France with furniture, household appliance and consumer electricals markets performing in a subdued fashion against the previous year." Comet, Kesa's UK business, will have fared better but few expect anything spectacular.

Results: Full year - GW Pharmaceuticals; Hartford. Interims - None. Trading statements - Kesa Electricals; Ted Baker.

FRIDAY: Third-quarter results from Vedanta look set to impress. Analysts expect the mining group to unveil earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $240m (£135m), up 35 per cent on the second quarter. Production as well as financial results should continue to be up on last year, with strong performances from zinc and aluminium in particular.

Results: Full year - None. Interims - Vedanta Resources. Trading statements - None.

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