The Week Ahead: Investors hope growth is in store at Debenhams

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Debenhams updates the City for the first time since its float today and the department store group is expected to come up with an encouraging statement. Analysts are hoping it will unveil solid growth both in sales and profit margins.

Should it disappoint, readers can expect an outcry in the Square Mile. The retailer was only re-listed in May after an absence of more than two years. Debenhams was taken off the market in late 2003 after a private-equity takeover and later refinanced. At the float, the group's private-equity backers sold a large chunk of their shareholding (but retain 40 per cent of the firm) while about 300 managers bagged a profit of around £150m by offloading a 14 per cent shareholding.

Also of interest will be how well Debenhams, which has 123 stores, has absorbed the Roches Stores business it acquired in Ireland last month.

TODAY: Results: Full year - Albermarle & Bond; Wilmington. Interims - Burren Energy; Collins Stewart; Goals Soccer Centres; Oxonica; Petrofac; Pure Wafer. Trading statements - Debenhams.

TOMORROW: Few are expecting anything but an outstanding set of interim figures from the miner Kazakhmys. Booming copper prices should see the group report first-half earnings of £533m, compared with £570m for the whole of last year. The Kazakhstan copper miner is perfectly positioned to benefit from the present commodities bull run. It is based just across the boarder from China - the driving force behind he boom. Of course, Kazakhmys shares are very vulnerable to any drop in the copper price and suffered in recent weeks as metals prices staged a modest retreat.

Results: Full year - Netcall. Interims - Bloomsbury Publishing; Corac Group; Development Securities; Kazakhmys; Orca Interactive; Sportech; Sterling Energy; Trafficmaster; Venture Production; Ukrproduct.

WEDNESDAY: When Woolworths last updated the market, in July, it revealed a drop in like-for-like sales of 7.7 per cent. Investors will be hoping for an improvement on this at its interim results. Poor sales have been behind the slump in the retailer's shares. In April last year, they stood above 55p. On Friday, they closed at 34.75p. The only thing holding the stock at current levels is hope that Woolworths will be taken over. If anyone is going to end up buying the group it will be the Icelandic investment firm Baugur, which already has a 10 per cent stake in the retailer.

In terms of financials, the City expects Woolworths to post widening first-half pre-tax losses - to about £69m from £36m. Updates regarding the group's store improvement programme will be of interest to investors, along with progress on the recent introduction of a home delivery facility.

Results: Full year - None; Interims - Alea Group; Arena Leisure; Augean; Eleksen Group; Heywood Williams; Huntsworth; Resolution; Woolworths; Work Group.

THURSDAY: Shares in Morrison Supermarkets have been in heavy demand before its interim results this week. On Friday they closed as one of the best performers in the FTSE 100 on hopes its statement will make pleasant reading for shareholders. Some of the excitement around Morrison was prompted by UBS. It urged clients to buy into the supermarket operator, telling them to expect it to report a first-half pre-tax profit of around £120m, compared with £34m last year. It believes the group has benefited from strong market conditions.

UBS said: "The hot summer increased demand for fresh produce, which is positive for profit margins, while the World Cup boosted sales during June." The Swiss broker also told investors to expect converted Safeway stores to provide a boost.

Morrison is very much in recovery mode, having spent years struggling to properly integrate its purchase of Safeway. UBS believes if the recovery programme fails, the supermarket group will be vulnerable to a bid from private equity.

Gondola Holdings, the owner of the PizzaExpress and ASK restaurant chains, will publish its first set of annual results as a listed company and possibly also its last. Although Gondola only joined the stock market in November, it received a bid approach from Cinven this month. The group has already opened its books to the private equity house and leading shareholders have agreed to back its 415p a share offer. Clearly, investors will be very keen to hear whether there has been any further progress in the negotiations. Gondola is forecast to report a pre-tax profit of £50m.

Results: Full year - Gondola Holdings; NXT; Primary Health. Interims - London Capital Group; Premier Oil; UCM Group; Morrison Supermarkets.

FRIDAY: Results: Full year - James Halstead. Interims - New Star Asset Management.

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