The Week Ahead: BSkyB boosted by 200,000 new subscribers

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The Independent Online

Broadcaster BSkyB is expected to say on Wednesday that it is well on the way to 10 million subscribers, its target for 2010, with some 200,000 expected to be added for the second quarter results, which includes the Christmas period, taking the total to 8.5 million.

The company's progress on broadband will be closely watched. At the end of the first quarter, the company had 74,000 broadband customers, having launched the service in the summer of last year. About 150,000 more subscribers are forecast to have been added in the second quarter. That would still leave the company with a lot of work to do in order to make the 1 million broadband customers the City is expecting BSkyB to have by the end of 2007.

Numis Securities forecasts pre-tax profits of £300m for the first half, a 23 per cent decrease on the previous year. Revenues should be up 12 per cent to £2.2bn.

A key area of interest for investors is any further explanation of Sky's decision, late last year, to take an 18 per cent stake in terrestrial broadcaster ITV. The holding is currently subject to a regulatory review.

TODAY: Results: Full year - Amino Technologies; Filtronic; Travelzest.

TOMORROW: November's detailed trading statement from mortgage lender Kensington should mean that there are few surprises in today's full-year results. That said, the November statement warned of lower revenues so investors should brace themselves for more bad news, especially taking into consideration Friday's poor figures on mortgage lending in December. Analysts' consensus forecasts are for £65.5m of pre-tax profits, but some investors think the company may fall short of that mark.

Investors will be hoping for an update on the future of London Scottish Bank when the doorstep lender reports full-year profits tomorrow. The company has been under offer since April with the suitor, Cattles, making itself known in November. The company is expected to make pre tax profits of £16.5m but the market will also want to hear how it will deal with the recent critical report from the Competition Commission. It has demanded a series of behavioural remedies in the hope of cutting back millions of pounds in excess profits it says the industry has been making.

Surfcontrol reports second-quarter results but the figures will be overshadowed by any comments made about bid talks. The internet security software, said in early December that a mystery bidder that sparked a 27 per cent rise in its shares had approached it. Outside the bid situation, analysts said the company could peg back R&D spend after its heavy investment in its sales & marketing function over the past year. Overall, the company is expected to report a pretax loss of about £700,000 with revenues up 15 per cent.

Results: Full year - Dobbies Garden Centres; GW Pharmaceuticals; Kensington Group; London Scottish Bank. First half - PZ Cussons; Surfcontrol.

WEDNESDAY: October's revenue warning from Wolfson Microelectronics sent the shares almost 50 per cent lower. There has been a recovery since the start of the year, mainly on the launch of Apple's iPhone, which Wolfson is expected to provide technology for. The new chief executive David Shrigley, due to start on 1 March, takes the reins at a critical time.

Results: First half - Angle; British Sky Broadcasting; NWF Group; Wolfson Microelectronics.

THURSDAY: A big day for major blue chips, with results from Shell, AstraZeneca and Rio Tinto. Under most pressure is AstraZeneca following a topsy-turvy year during which the shares soared to new highs only to spend the second half of the year in freefall. November's trading statement said full-year earnings will be at the lower end of expectations, with consensus forecasts for pre-tax profits of £4.3bn.

Rio Tinto reported stellar first half profits of $3.8bn and any second half slowdown would be a surprise. Tom Albanese is due to replace the chief executive Leigh Clifford at the start of May.

The price of oil may have weakened in recent weeks but Shell should still report a sparkling set of numbers. The UK's largest company by market capitalisation has been embroiled in a dispute over its Sakhalin Russian pipeline deal but does not expect a hit to its bottom line.

Results: Full year - AstraZeneca; Rio Tinto; Royal Dutch Shell.

FRIDAY: Third quarter numbers from British Airways are likely to remain overshadowed by the industrial dispute. The shares have been strong recently, thanks to the falling fuel price, so investors will be hoping for positive news on passenger numbers.

Results: Full year - Randgold Resources. Third quarter - British Airways.

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