The Week Ahead: ITV broadcasts profit rise while InterContinental boss beds in

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The Independent Online

Heavyweight companies have dominated market news of late, with updates, results and the odd acquisition rumour. This week, a stream of smaller rivals will be vying for centre stage, but some blue chips are still lining up to report. In other words, particularly with the Bank of England making its latest decision on interest rates, it's going to be a busy week.

Heavyweight companies have dominated market news of late, with updates, results and the odd acquisition rumour. This week, a stream of smaller rivals will be vying for centre stage, but some blue chips are still lining up to report. In other words, particularly with the Bank of England making its latest decision on interest rates, it's going to be a busy week.

The media sector has already heard from newspaper publishers Pearson and Trinity Mirror and now it's the turn of the broadcaster ITV, the merged Granada and Carlton. Final pre-tax profits are expected to have risen from £236m to £271m, while operating margins should have improved because of cost savings since the merger. Analysts will want an update on current trading and market share, as well as news on the licence renewal. The other key theme is likely to be any possible restructuring of the balance sheet and disposals of non-core assets.

Elsewhere, the new chief executive of InterContinental Hotels (IHG), Andrew Cosslett, unveils his first set of results since taking over from Richard North. His investors are used to good news from the company: as well as a recovery in the hotels sector, IHG has announced an asset disposal programme that could eventually result in £2bn being returned to shareholders. At these results, final pre-tax profits are expected to have risen from £244m to £310m.

What analysts want to know from Mr Cosslett, however, is how IHG will shape up after its transformation into a management and franchise company from an asset-rich hotel owner. They will also want assurances that the delayed Britvic flotation is still on track. Most are hoping it will get away this year, but IHG is unlikely to commit itself to a strict timescale.

The banks' reporting season may have drawn to a close, but financial stocks are still well represented with results from insurers Aviva and Royal & SunAlliance. At Aviva, there are unlikely to be many surprises, while RSA has issued a steady stream of updates in recent months - not least news that it was increasing its US reserves for future claims payouts by £160m, and that new accounting standards would eat into shareholder equity by £400m. At the results, one of the main issues of interest will be the size of the dividend increase after last year's rights issue.

The construction, DIY and housebuilding sectors are also represented, with results from Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Travis Perkins and Redrow. All should provide more clues about the state of the housing market, while builders' merchant Travis Perkins will be issuing its first set of numbers since acquiring the DIY chain Wickes late last year for £950m.

Other companies in the spotlight include ferries and ports group P&O, oil services business John Wood, defence specialist Cobham and International Power. Here, the utility's US business will be in the spotlight as its recovery is crucial to the group's overall performance. Earnings are likely to be down by around 14 per cent, though that will be at the top end, if not better, of company guidance.

There will also be traffic figures for February from easyJet and airport owner BAA, while retail news will focus on figures from French Connection. The chain has been the latest to enjoy the Baugur effect: its shares jumped last week on reports that the acquisitive Icelandic group was looking to buy a stake. As for the results, analysts hope for signs of improvement following November's profit warning.

Nor is it just UK companies gearing up for a busy week. Mainland Europe will be fully occupied, with results due from the French supermarket giant Carrefour, luxury group LVMH, the sports specialist Adidas-Salomon, Vivendi Universal and Volkswagen. LVMH has already said that earnings are likely to be up around 10 per cent, but when consumer spending eases, the luxury sector is vulnerable, so analysts will want reassuring comments about trading from the owner of Moët Hennessy and Louis Vuitton. Also reporting are defence group EADS and utility group E.ON.

And, of course, there is also the Bank of England's decision on interest rates. No one is expecting much to happen, though, with economists generally agreeing that the cost of borrowing will be left on hold at 4.75 per cent once again.

CALENDAR

Tomorrow 7

UK: Results: (final) Aggregate Industries, British Vita, Concurrent Technologies, Huveaux, Hydro International, Imagesound, IMI, Incisive Media, Intertek, Just Car Clinics, Keller, Management Consulting, Taylor Nelson Sofres, Travis Perkins, Vitec; (interim) Close Brothers, Glisten, ICM Computer.

Tuesday 8

UK: Results: (F) Acambis, Aegis, Amlin, Biotrace International, Chime Communications, Claims People, French Connection, Goshawk Insurance, Inion, Interserve, John Wood, Lavendon, Metalrax, P&O, RPS, SIG, XN Checkout Holdings; (I) Allergy Therapeutics, DX Services, Redrow.

Wednesday 9

UK: Results: (F) 1st Dental, Aviva, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Cyprotex, Hill & Smith, Interactive Prospect Targeting, IPO2IPO, ITV, James Fisher & Sons, Restaurant Group; (I) A&J Mucklow, Synairgen.

Thursday 10

UK: Results: (F) Adventis, Amec, Ark Therapeutics, Cobham, Fayrewood, Heywood Williams, InterContinental Hotels, International Power, NSB Retail Systems, Royal & SunAlliance, SMG, T&F Informa; (I) Primary Health Properties.

Friday 11

UK: Results: (F) Catlin, Charles Taylor, Flying Brands, Marshalls, Singer & Friedlander, T Clark; (I) Waterman.

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