The Week Ahead: Can GCap Media make waves in radio land?

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The Independent Online

The leading force in UK radio will be born today, when the merger of Capital Radio and GWR completes, to produce GCap Media.

The leading force in UK radio will be born today, when the merger of Capital Radio and GWR completes, to produce GCap Media. The creation of the new company will coincide with the last ever results from Capital, which will put out interim figures, along with full-year results from GCap Media. Tomorrow we get half-year numbers from its rival Chrysalis, so, put together with the quarterly ("Rajar") listening figures for all stations put out last week, a pretty comprehensive picture of UK radio will emerge.

We know the advertising environment has been difficult for radio in recent months, a phenomenon which has hit other media sectors too, such as newspapers.

GCap will begin life immediately on the back foot after the Rajar figures were disastrous for Capital's flagship 95.8FM brand, which was replaced as the clear market leader in London by Chrysalis' Heart 106.2 FM station. Capital Radio will need to defend both its audience figures and its financial results, which are expected to be down. And, speaking as GCap, we can expect some broader strategic comment, plans for the future and further details on the benefits of the merger. Investors would welcome any advance on the cost-savings targets.

According to the broker Charles Stanley, Capital's pre-tax profit will be down a painful 12 per cent on last year, at £10.6m for the six months to the end of March. The company's news on current trading and visibility will be closely scrutinised.

Today: Results: Full-year - Center Parcs. Interims - Capital Radio, Richmond Foods. AGM - Centrica, Xstrata.

Tomorrow: Jessops, the camera retailer, will have a lot of questions to answer when it presents half-year results. The company, which floated only last year, shocked investors with the news in March that its engine of growth was faltering. That is, the previously runaway market for digital cameras had slowed alarmingly, leading analysts to cut full-year profit forecasts by up to 30 per cent.

Investors will want to be reassured that demand for digital cameras has not sunk completely but, like the other high street retailers, Jessops will have had to contend with the general drop in consumer confidence. Like-for-like sales are expected to be just 1 per cent ahead for the first half, with the second three months of that period down over 4 per cent. The City will want to know whether the company thinks there has been a structural shift that will permanently hit digital camera sales - that is, have those consumers readily attracted to the new technology already upgraded?

BG Group should present another record set of quarterly results, propelled by higher production volumes, higher oil and gas prices and good performance downstream. Analysts are looking for net profits, before exceptionals, to be up some 50 per cent. The company, which is often seen as a bid target, may give guidance on what it will do with surplus cash after the recent agreement to sell its interests in the North Caspian Production Sharing Agreement for $1.8bn.

Results: Full-year - N Brown, Big Yellow. Interims - Chrysalis, Sage, Jessops. First quarter - BG, Acambis. AGM - Unilever.

Wednesday: Unilever, the consumer goods giant, will face shareholder anger over a pay-off to the former chairman Niall FitzGerald. The company's Dutch shareholders will come together for the annual general meeting on Wednesday in Rotterdam and Thursday will see the same event held in London. Mr FitzGerald, now chairman of Reuters, received a termination payment of £1.22m.

A trading update from Dixons will shed light on whether the consumer electronics retailer has been hit by the high-street slowdown in the UK. We already know that Christmas trading was not as bad as feared. The company is likely to try to focus attention on its overseas business.

Results: Full-year - FirstGroup. First half - Phytopharm. First quarter - Spectris. AGM - Unilever (Rotterdam), Carillion, Gallaher, Old Mutual, Spectris, Taylor Nelson Sofres, Weir. Trading: Dixons.

Thursday: Results: Full-year - 3i, Findel. Interims - BOC. First quarter - International Power, Royal & SunAlliance. AGM - Balfour Beatty, Brixton, Inchcape, Meggitt, Spirax-Sarco, St James Place, United Business Media, Unilever (London).

Friday: The key issue is how the incoming chief executive Willie Walsh will perform as the boss of the "world's most profitable airline", British Airways. Revenue growth of between 3 and 3.5 per cent is forecast for the full-year results, with the company benefiting from a rise in premium traffic, along with debt and cost reduction. No dividend is expected until next year, though. The City is looking for news on the next cost-savings drive.

Results: Full-year - British Airways. AGM - IMI, Laird, P&O.

Economics Diary

Today: UK - Interest rate decision; Manufacturing output (Mar); Producer price inflation (Apr); ODPM house price survey (Mar). G10 - Central bankers meet in Basel. Japan - Minutes of last monetary policy decision. Germany - Industrial production (Mar).

Tomorrow: UK - Land registry house price survey (Q1); BRC retail sales monitor (Apr). Germany - Current account/trade balance (Mar).

Wednesday: UK - Trade in goods & services (Mar); Bank of England Inflation Report. Japan - Leading indicator (Mar). France - Industrial production (Mar). US - International trade (Mar).

Thursday: ECB Monthly Bulletin. Eurozone - GDP (1st estimate) Q1. Germany - GDP (1st estimate) Q1. Italy - Industrial production (Mar); GDP (1st estimate) Q1.

Friday: Informal meeting of EU finance ministers (day 1 of 2).

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