The Week Ahead: Diageo drops in for a half but is Sportsworld fit to float?

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The Independent Online

Diageo, the world's biggest boozer, is just one of the British corporate giants that will be reporting to the City this week. The maker of Johnnie Walker and Guinness is likely to reveal continued difficulty caused by the weakness of the dollar in America, its biggest market. However, it is still expected to turn in a solid set of interim numbers, with most analysts predicting it will hit its 7 per cent earnings growth target.

Mutual fund giant Amvescap will again have to address the persistent rumours that the group could be taken over. The latest supposed predator is said to be financial services rival Man Group, though Martin Flanagan, Amvescap's chief executive, is not likely to sate the market's appetite for information on that front. Rather, he will want to focus on the numbers, which are expected to go in the opposite direction to those produced by F&C Asset Management. The fund manager reported a massive outflow of funds last month as clients looked to more specialist investments. Amvescap, which manages global funds worth around $440bn (£225bn) under the AIM and Invesco brand names, is expected to reveal net asset inflow and increased operating margins and profits.

Bradford & Bingley will come under the microscope on Tuesday when it unveils its final results. Broker Charles Stanley is expecting the lender to report £310m in pre-tax profits, though analysts will want some answers from the chief executive, Steven Crenshaw, on credit quality. The company's exposure to specialist lending via self-certified mortgages and buy-to-let loans is higher than most in the sector. The City will want reassurance that loans in arrears have continued to fall, as detailed by B&B in a trading statement in December.

In a different patch of the property industry is British Land, which will be the first of the large commercial players to unveil results this year. More importantly, it will be the first to report after taking advantage of new regulations and transforming itself into a real-estate investment trust. The Reit structure allows for more favourable tax treatment of property assets and is expected to be a big driver for values in the sector. Analysts expect British Land's numbers to be strong, driven by the buoyant office market.

Tomkins, the maker of car and air-conditioner parts, reports annual results on Thursday. And catering giant Compass will give a progress report on the restructuring plans that were unveiled last year by its new chief executive, Richard Cousins. It provides interim numbers on Friday.

The time of reckoning is upon Mike Ashley, the chief executive of retailer Sportsworld, who is expected to decide this week whether to proceed with a flotation. In an effort to rescue the expected £2bn debut, Mr Ashley last week decided to axe a £300m special dividend to himself and a bonus programme for staff. Investors are said to be cool on retail floats after the recent poor performance of Debenhams.

Publisher Reed Elsevier will hope to burnish its image with final results on Thursday. The company, dragged down by its education division, disappointed the City in a trading statement last November. It will be a stretch to meet its pledge of 10 per cent annual earnings growth.

Pendragon, the UK's largest car seller, will reveal annual numbers the same day, as well as supplying a progress report on the integration and performance of Reg Vardy, acquired last year. Analysts expect Pendragon to have motored to £67.9m in pre- tax profits for the year, up from £59m the year before on the back of its added bulk.

Away from company performance, a batch of economic data should provide a clearer picture of future interest rate movements. Investec economist Philip Shaw said that the Bank of England's inflation report for January, to be published on Wednesday, will be a "key gauge" as to when it will next raise rates. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors survey that night is expected to provide further evidence that the booming housing market is cooling.


Tomorrow 12

UK RESULTS: (final) Heavitree Brewery, Royalblue, St Modwen Properties, Internet Business; (interim) McBride, Albemarle & Bond, Workspace.

Tuesday 13

UK RESULTS: (F) Bradford & Bingley, Amvescap; (I) British Land.

Wednesday 14

UK RESULTS: (F) ARC International.

Thursday 15

UK RESULTS: (F) Pendragon, Tomkins, Reed Elsevier; (I) Antisoma, Diageo.

Friday 16

UK RESULTS: (I) Go-Ahead, Compass.