The Week Ahead: Enterprise Inns boldly goes into a non-smoking future

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The Independent Online

A smorgasbord of results this week will be dominated by full-year figures from Enterprise Inns, the group of 7,800 leased and tenanted pubs owned by Solihull entrepreneur Ted Tuppen.

The company said in a trading statement last month that profits would be in line with analysts' forecasts of £315m against £305.6m last time, and earnings per share of 68.2p compared with 63.2p previously. Consolidation from a recent share buyback will boost earnings per share.

However, there is expected to be considerable interest in the make-up of the group ahead of the imminent ban on smoking in public places. Mr Tuppen has said the tenants and leaseholders will bear the brunt of any impact from the ban.

The company has partly addressed the issue by offloading to Admiral Taverns those of its pubs that were more at the beer and fags end of the spectrum. The market has bought the arguments and Enterprise's share price has risen by 75p in the past month following 20 per cent upgrades by analysts.

Elsewhere, attention will be focused on the impact of the latest property boom. British Land, which has about half of its portfolio in London, is expected to have benefited from a rise in commercial rents.

Morgan Stanley predicts rents in the West End, already approaching £120 per square foot, will rise by 74 per cent over four years, while the City of London will experience a 58 per cent rise. Analysts have pencilled in a half-yearly net asset value - the key indicator of property company profitability - of £16.09p a share, which compares with £12.56p at the same point last year.

Enodis, the food equipment maker under pressure from a bid by Aga Foodservice, is to announce full-year numbers on Tuesday. Expectations are high following a bouncy trading update in September. For instance, Merrill Lynch is looking for pre-tax profit to rise by 42 per cent to £62.5m, although it expects earnings to be more restrained with a 6 per cent rise to 9.74p per share because of a tax charge.

However, the big question will be what the company is going to do to get its share price up from the current 198p, having already this year rejected three bid approaches valuing it at up to 210p a share.

Icap, the world's largest interdealer broker, publishes interim figures on Tuesday. Forecasts for the year to March 2007 range from £245m to £269m; in the year to March 2006, Icap's profits were £204m.

600 Group, one of the oldest quoted companies on the London Stock Exchange, has experienced mixed fortunes ever since George Cohen founded his scrap metal business in the East End of London in 1834 and named it after its address - 600 Commercial Road.

From being one of the main machine tool groups in the UK, 600 Group has declined with the rest of the engineering sector. Now under a new chief executive, it is announcing interim figures on Wednesday that are expected to reveal pre-tax profits of around £1m compared with an interim loss of £100,000 last year. John Dean at Altium Securities said: "Under Andrew Dick, 600 Group is making fundamental progress and we fully expect the interims to reflect that."

Meanwhile, the buy-to-let market may be looking slightly risky these days but Paragon, the prolific issuer of mortgage-backed securitisations, is expected to continue to reap the benefits. The group, with some £7bn under management, has completed 50 transactions totalling more than £16bn. Analysts are predicting a pre-tax profit of £81.6m, up from £71.7m last year, and earnings per share of 56.2p when the group reports on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Johnson Matthey, the specialist chemicals company which concentrates on catalysts, precious metals and fine chemicals, is predicted to announce half-yearly pre-tax profits of £113m-£116.4m and earnings per share of 36.9p-38.4p.

Daily Mail & General Trust reports on Thursday. Life for newspapers has become increasingly tough over the past few years as the growth of internet-based news has diluted advertising revenues, and the Daily Mail's stable of publications has not escaped the pressure.

Numis Securities predicts full-year turnover up just 1 per cent at £2.16bn. Headline profits are set to fall from £223m to £205m after a £40m restructuring charge, but the dividend should be increased from 12p to 12.8p, the broker says.


Monday 20

UK RESULTS: (final) Care UK, Education Development, fountains; (interim) Debt Free Direct, ILX, Thus, Workspace.

Tuesday 21

UK RESULTS: (F) Enodis, Enterprise Inns, ScS Upholstery; (I) British Land, Experian, GUS, ICAP, Oxford Instruments,, Signet; (third quarter) SSL International.

Wednesday 22

UK RESULTS: (F) Ciref, Paragon; (I) 600 Group, Imagination Technology, Johnson Matthey, London Merchant, Prime People,Speedy Hire.

Thursday 23

UK RESULTS: (F) Cardpoint, Claimar Care, Daily Mail & General Trust; (I) WS Atkins, Big Yellow, Clarity Commerce, Domestic & General, Halfords, New Avesco, Renold, Victoria.

Friday 24

UK RESULTS: (I) Fuller Smith & Turner, Trifast.