The Week Ahead: Cranswick sizzles as pork sales soar


Cash-strapped shoppers switching to pork to help cut costs has assisted the pork producer Cranswick to report strong sales growth. During the summer it reported first-quarter sales growth of 7.4 per cent. Numis Securities' Charles Pick reckons the growth will have continued when it reports its trading update today. Mr Pick's only warning is that "there is a risk Cranswick has to pay more for its pig meat" in future.

Rising precious metals prices have helped Vedanta Resources recently, but a setback at its iron ore business in Goa, India, caused its shares to suffer last month. Goa's state government last month suspended operations in mining following a report about bad practices and illegal mining there. The Liberum Capital scribe Ash Lazenby reckons the market will remain cautious on likely timing of a resolution, and thinks its shares will remain weak, as iron ore production from Goa makes up 11 per cent of its total.

The group has also been hit by copper and aluminium price falls. Standard & Poor issued a report last week on falling iron ore prices and said miners will be impacted, but "those able to defer capital expenditure and cut costs" would be able to withstand a period of low iron ore prices.

Lazenby gave the stock a buy rating with a target share price of £1,003, and the mining giant will issue a production progress update today.

Results/Updates: Michael Page.


The recruitment sector has been tough and the global outlook is still challenging. Peel Hunt is keeping its eye on Australia for the recruiter Hays. Henry Carver said: "Australia is likely to be slowing, as the pause in the mining resources activity will likely impact other sectors in the region." He sees "no fundamental positive catalysts in the near term, and we maintain our cautious stance". He gives it a sell rating with a price target of 65p.

The recruitment firm will update the market with a trading statement tomorrow, and analysts at Numis believe that at this stage "there is better value elsewhere in the sector".

Results/Updates: dotDigital, Utilitywise, May Gurney, XP Power.


The Swiss-based but Ukraine-focused miner Ferrexpo will reveal third-quarter production results midweek, with analysts expecting a flat and uneventful update. Last month Jefferies said it sees long-term value with near-term risks for Ferrexpo, "which should realise attractive returns even assuming normalised prices". Scribes at Numis expect its production to be flat and "low grade/high grade ratios to be maintained at previous levels".


From Kobo e-book readers and digital book stores to flogging bottles of water or giant bars of Dairy Milk for a £1 at train stations and airports, WH Smith's strategy appears to be paying off. It has confirmed that its full-year pre-tax profit will be at the top end of expectations, at more than £100m. The analyst John Stevenson at Peel Hunt said underlying cash generation remains strong at the newsagent-cum-bookstore, and earlier this summer confirmed a further £50m planned share buyback for next year.

Mr Stevenson gave a hold rating and a price target of 600p ahead of final results on Thursday.

Results/Updates: Air Partner, Ashmore, Burberry, e2v technologies, Greggs.


Travis Perkins, the builders' merchant and owner of the retail chain Wickes, will give an insight into its trading performance on Friday when it updates on its third-quarter results. Howard Seymour at Numis expects few surprises, with like-for-like sales in both the trade and retail areas likely to be flat due to the stagnant housing market. Mr Seymour reckons gross margins will still benefit from management actions and the "group is expected to maintain operational outperformance in its key markets".

Results/Updates: Computacenter, Hargreaves Lansdown, Travis Perkins.

Economics Diary


Lloyds employment confidence survey, Eurogroup meetings, German industrial production.


British Retail Consortium sales data for September, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors house price figures, industrial production figures and manufacturing output figures, National Institute of Social and Economic Research GDP estimate, trade balance, Ecofin meetings.


French industrial update, US 10-year bond auction, US Beige Book


ECB monthly bulletin, Bloomberg UK economic survey for October, US crude oil Inventories, US federal budget balance, US unemployment claims.


European Industrial Production, US consumer sentiment.

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