The Week Ahead: Investors ready to raise a glass to Greene King

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The Independent Online

Greene King's interim results tomorrow will provide the City with the first opportunity to find out how the pubs group is getting on with the integration of its Belhaven and Ridleys acquisitions. Following last week's mega-deal in the sector (the purchase of Spirit Group by Punch Taverns) few analysts expect any more transactions of that size.

The purchases of Belhaven and Ridleys were widely applauded by investors, as the new estates Greene King gained both consolidated and extended the company's geographic reach, especially into Scotland.

The group's September AGM statement revealed that it had had a good start to the year, with like-for-like sales at its managed pubs rising 1.2 per cent.

The Suffolk-based company also boasted of a 6 per cent rise in beer volumes driven by solid demand for Old Specked Hen and Greene King IPA.

TODAY: Results: Full year - Aberdeen Asset Management. Interims - Acal; Accident Exchange; Carclo; Creston; Helphire.

TOMORROW: Results: Full year - API; Grainger Trust; ITE Group. Interims - Christian Salvesen; Green King; Halma; Northgate Information; Severn Trent.

WEDNESDAY: Annual results from Intec Telecom Systems will see the group update the market on the integration of its $75m acquisition of Singl.eView. The billing software company aims to achieve significant success in cross-selling products from its core Intec business and Singl.eView. Analysts expect Intec to unveil a profit before tax of about £12m, up from £8m last time around.

Numis Securities started covering the group just last month. It predicts that Intec will achieve organic growth of 8 per cent this year and is very bullish about the prospects for its shares. Numis said: "It is rare to be able to buy into a profitable, growing, cash rich global software company in a consolidating sector on a multiple of a little over 1 times sales."

The broker believes that the Intec story is under-appreciated by the market and expects the shares to make good progress once a home has been found for the former chairman's 5.5 per cent stake.

Stagecoach was last week forced to deny speculation that its management is planning to take the company private. This week the City's focus will be back on the transport group's operating performance.

The main problem Stagecoach faces at present is a rising fuel bill due to the strong crude oil price. As a result its first half profits are likely to be little changed on the £70m seen last year.

The group took a blow late last month when its joint bid with Danish Railways failed to win the new Integrated Kent Franchise. The Department for Transport awarded the franchise to Govia, a joint venture between Go-Ahead and Keolis, a French company. However, Stagecoach is now bidding for the new South West franchise which runs from February 2007, as well as the Thameslink/Great Northern and Greater Western franchises.

Results: Full year - Gooch & Housego; Intec Telecom; Landround; Ultraframe. Interims - DS Smith; Northumbrian Water; PHS Group; Protherics; Stagecoach.

THURSDAY: Williams de Broë believes First Choice had a good summer in spite of the weakening consumer confidence and host of natural disasters. The broker hopes to see the travel group unveil an annual pre-tax profit of £112m, up from £98m last time around. Going forward, it forecasts good things for First Choice shareholders. It estimates that the next two years will see the company generate about £100m in free cash flow which should lead to a dividend hike.

Pennon Group continues to perform well and its interim results will show this. South West Water has outperformed its regulatory contract for 2000-05 and achieved a good result from the price control review, while Viridor Waste is known to be achieving good profit growth. Overall, analysts forecast Pennon to unveil a 14 per cent rise in first half pre-tax profits to £57m.

Premier Farnell is very exposed to fluctuations in the value of the US dollar. The electronics distributor generates nearly half its revenues from across the Atlantic and the recent rally by the greenback will have done it the world of good. Growth in its North American market is also starting to pick up, but is unlikely to have fed through quickly enough to boost Premier Farnell's third quarter operating profits, which are expected to be little changed from the £18.5m seen in the same period last year.

Results: Full year - First Choice. Interims - Anite; Premier Farnell; Computerland UK; iSoft; Pennon; Universal Salvage.

FRIDAY: Results: Full year - None expected. Interims - Berkeley.

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