The Week Ahead: Eyes on Daily Mail for 'Telegraph' steer

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The battle for control of The Daily Telegraph newspaper group is expected by City analysts to be revived this week when Daily Mail & General Trust declares interim results.

The battle for control of The Daily Telegraph newspaper group is expected by City analysts to be revived this week when Daily Mail & General Trust declares interim results.

While those results are expected to produce a pre-tax profit of £87m, about 12 per cent higher than a year ago, the newspaper and radio media group will be pressed for its view on the latest position regarding the Telegraph. It is one of three bidders left in the running in the £600m auction, along with the Barclay brothers and the venture capital group 3i.

DMGT has the greatest opportunities for synergies, but for the same reason is in the most danger of a reference to the Competition Commission. Paul Richards, an analyst at Numis Securities, said: "Any update on the Telegraph bid situation will be the key short-term driver for the share price."

The half-year figures were signalled in a trading update in March. The City will want to learn DMGT's latest analysis of the advertising market. It has been depressed, but investors will take heart from any optimism in the DMGT camp.

TODAY: Ryanair Holdings, the cut-price Irish airline, will be reporting after the jump in the oil price. This and more intense competition are expected to hit profits in the current year, which Deutsche Bank thinks fell in any case last year from €264.5m (£176m) to €227.3m. The chairman, Michael O'Leary, will be expected to comment - in his usual, expletive-strewn fashion, no doubt - on his battle with the European Union over alleged state subsidies for Ryanair's operations at Charleroi airport in Belgium.

If the gizmos being developed by Eckoh Technologies come to fruition, we will all be operating computers and internet terminals by voice rather than keyboard or mouse. As with all technological breakthroughs, the road to heaven is strewn with disappointments and postponements, but Eckoh does have a valuable tie-up with BT while it inches towards the jackpot. Meanwhile, Robin Chhabra at the broker Evolution Beeson Gregory expects full-year pre-tax profits to have fallen from £400,000 to £200,000.

Results: Full year - Eckoh Technologies, Eircom Group, Ryanair Holdings. Interims - Fountains, RWS Holdings, SCI Entertainment, Synstar.

TOMORROW: Strong attention will be focused on the results from Northern Foods, as this will be the first statement from a major supplier to Marks & Spencer since last week's bid approach to M&S from the entrepreneur Philip Green. In his efforts to increase M&S profits if he gains control, Mr Green is expected to bargain tougher deals from suppliers and/or hive off the food operations, which take a third of Northern's sales. Neither will be good news for Northern: as it is, M&S said last month that like-for-like food sales fell 1.4 per cent in the final quarter of its trading year, although opening new outlets took total turnover up. Northern's profit for the year to March is expected to be down about 12 per cent to £85m, thanks to the ending of a contract with Sainsbury's and a pause before the start of an Asda contract.

Investors will have their begging bowls out as they wait for Cable & Wireless's results. In the absence of much-touted acquisitions, speculation has it that the telecommunications group will return cash to shareholders. But François-Pierre Arth, an analyst at Exane Equity Research, says he would be grateful simply for a clear statement of future strategy. Yearly profits are forecast a fifth lower at £3.6bn. AWG will be unveiling the first set of results since Jonson Cox took over as chief executive last November, so shareholders can look forward to a thoroughgoing review of the water utility's prospects. It is in the middle of the water regulator's price review, in which the company is proposing to cut capital expenditure from £2.7bn to £1.8bn. Earnings per share for the year to March should rise from 36.8p to 41.7p, paving the way for a higher dividend.

Results: Full year - AWG, Cable & Wireless, Expro International, Maelor, Northern Foods, Peacock Group, Umeco, Volex Group. Interims - none.

THURSDAY: Johnson Matthey produces chemicals for emission-reducing catalytic converters and for a wide range of other industrial uses. Sales to dollar-related regions will be affected by the weaker currency, but underlying demand for the company's products is promising. Pre-tax profits for the year to March are forecast to have crept ahead from £189.9m to £192m, which may take the dividend up from 25.5p to 26.7p.

Results: Full year - Applied Optical, Carphone Warehouse, East Surrey Holdings, FKI, Genus, Johnson Matthey, Oxford Instruments, Private & Commercial, Speedy Hire, Tate & Lyle, Wagon. Interims - Daily Mail & General Trust.

FRIDAY: Results: Full year - Cambridge Minerals, Hornby, Park Group. Interims - none.

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