The Week Ahead: Interbulk bucks the trend on bank loans



Small businesses are often critical of big banks for not lending them enough. But AIM-listed Interbulk isn't one of them. It managed to refinance with Bank of Scotland, enabling it save around £1.5m in annual interest payments from next year. Investors in the logistics specialist which focuses on the chemical, food and mineral industries, will be awaiting news of contract wins at its fourth-quarter trading update today. Last week it welcomed Jerome Burtin to its executive team. Mr Burtin works at logistics giant Nobert Dentressangle so his wide experience will be welcomed at the tanker group.

Results/Updates: Andor Technology, Alternative Networks, Treatt.


Tuesday will not see the red carpet rolled out for retailer Carpetright. In fact, analysts at Numis Securities reckon it is time to pull the rug out and sell shares in the retailer. Its half-year results tomorrow are unlikely to reveal any surprises as it has already updated on trading in October. A weak performance in Europe will have continued, and although the closure of stores at rival United Carpets may have helped, like-for-like sales are expected to be fragile. The retailer has started to sell beds and laminate floorings as extensions to its usual range of carpets, and its store refit programme is expected to have helped. But Numis' Matthew Taylor thinks the valuation "continues to reflect bid/recovery hopes" that he thinks are unrealistic. He gives it a sell rating with a share-price target of 350p.

Results/Updates: Victrex, Ashtead, ASOS, Go-Ahead, IG Group, Domino Printing Sciences, Whitbread, Zytronic.


Bye bye Comet, bye bye Italy. Electrical retailer Darty is shedding loss-making businesses in a bid to succeed. The demise of Comet and how its new owners handled the struggling retailer is of no concern to Darty shareholders – what they really want to see is an improvement in the core French business. Analysts at Seymour Pierce gave it a hold rating with a 50p share-price target ahead of its half-year results on Wednesday. Management have already said sales have deteriorated this year. Seymour Pierce is forecasting a first-half loss before tax excluding the Italian business of £1.2m. Investors will be keen to hear about the management's strategic update. Seymour Pierce expects it to "look to restructure the group further and exit other countries like Spain and Turkey". The market is also awaiting news on who will take over from chief executive Thierry Falque-Perrotin.

Results/Updates: Begbies Traynor, Idox, Imagination Technologies, SuperGroup, Senior, Carillion, Travis Perkins, Laird.


Investec's James Hollins is betting he knows what Betfair's Breon Corcoran will say at the online betting exchange's half-year results on Thursday. Betfair has scrapped its plans for Greece due to the risk of fines and sanctions. But Mr Hollins thinks Mr Corcoran has "the wrong strategy" as it is "reducing earnings and negates most ex-UK growth".

If Mr Corcoran focuses on regulated markets earnings and lower costs then this is a "far cry from the high-growth entity that came to the market at 1,300p in October 2010". Although Mr Hollins is "tempted to applaud a new strategy of driving a sensible cost base… this model does not, in our view, imply a target multiple of more than 20 times price-earnings ratio". He rates the group a sell with a share-price target of 600p.

Results/Updates: RWS, Betfair, Cohort, OPG Power Ventures, Sports Direct, Wood Group.


Numis analyst Douglas Jack expects pub group Punch Taverns to update the market on its plan to up food sales and its attempts at improving the quality of licensees. But the main focus remains on the negotiations with shareholders and bondholders on its capital structure which will take some time to conclude. Mr Jack rates it a hold with a share-price target of 6p.

Economics Diary


Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors house price balance data, EU Sentix Investor Confidence.


10-year bond auction, CB Leading Index, French final non-farm payrolls, German ZEW Economic Sentiment, US trade balance and US 10-year bond auction.


UK claimant count change, UK unemployment rate data, UK Average Earnings Index, Monetary Policy Committee member speech, US import prices and crude oil inventories, US Federal Budget Balance.


30-year bond auction, Confederation of British Industry Industrial order expectations, US core retail sales, US unemployment claims.


French, German & US Flash Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, US industrial production.

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