Life has not been sweet for Cadbury Schweppes of late. A double headache of high energy costs and a batch of contaminated chocolate bars has meant a tough trading period for the confectionery, chewing gum and soft drinks giant.
The group will come under pressure to reveal the full cost of the salmonella scare when it reports interim results on Wednesday. ABN Amro thinks the debacle has cost £20m in lost sales - four times Cadbury's original estimate. The confectioner warned in June it is unlikely to deliver full-year margin growth and the stock market has been full of rumours it will warn again.
Goldman Sachs expects the group to report profit before tax of £376m, well below consensus forecasts of £414m. Most brokers are cautious on half-year numbers due to the product recall saga, and the share price is likely to remain volatile in the short term.
TODAY: There is mounting speculation Marjorie Scardino, the chief executive of the publishing group Pearson, will name her successor, with the head of FT Group, Rona Fairhead, the favourite for the top job. Analysts have been calling for an end to the group's conglomerate structure and the Financial Times, seen by most as little more than a trophy asset, is most likely to be sold off. However, that isn't going to happen while Ms Scardino is in charge. Numis Securities is forecasting first-half revenues of £1.7bn and pre-tax profits of £3.3m; the business is heavily weighted towards the second half, hence the very small first-half profit.
Results: Full year - Filtronic; ITM Power. First half - HSBC Holdings; Pearson; Royalblue Group; Ultra Electronics.
TOMORROW: Expect a strong set of results from the house builder George Wimpey after a bullish pre-close trading statement on 5 June. Pre-tax profit is expected to hit £143m, up from £122.3m in 2005, on revenues of £1.38bn. Completions for the first half are up 19 per cent to 7,822, and at the end of June the forward order book stood at £1.058bn, up 8 per cent on the corresponding part of last year.
The Insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson abandoned its plans to pay £130m for Heath Lambert amid suggestions its smaller rival wanted more. Both companies have had well-publicised troubles in the recent past, and if there are going to be any surprises in the numbers traders expect them to be on the down side.
Analysts expect to see a moderate improvement in performance at the building materials retailer Travis Perkins on the back of better sales at the rival B&Q. The group bought the DIY chain Wickes for £950m in December 2004, but since then sales have declined every quarter. Bridgewell Securities has pencilled in £95m of pre-tax profits in the first half on revenues of £1.3bn.
Results: Full year - PZ Cussons. First half - Alliance Unichem; George Wimpey; HBOS; Jardine Lloyd Thompson; Travis Perkins; XP Power.
WEDNESDAY: Cazenove was pushing Laird Group hard last week ahead of results, and expects a 48 per cent rise in first-half pre-tax profits to £23m from the electronics group. The broker believes Laird has had a "very strong" first half, driven by good performance at the handset division.
Lloyds TSB has been a perennial under performer over the past few years. Most analysts are not expecting any great improvement in first-half results, with consensus forecasts expecting a 6.2 per cent jump in pre-tax profits to £1.72bn.
Rumours that Hanson is considering demerging its US interests sent the shares to a high of 784.5p in March, but since then concerns over the US housing market and a wave of broker downgrades has resulted in a decline to Friday's 654p closing price. The group said in June first-half pre-tax profits should rise by 10 per cent from last year to £216.7m.
Results: First half - 4imprint Group; Alfred McAlpine; Cadbury Schweppes; Cookson Group; Hanson; Laird Group; Lloyds TSB; Rotork; Tomkins; Xstrata.
THURSDAY: Investors in Trinity Mirror will be bracing themselves for more bad news on print advertising revenues. The chief executive Sly Bailey has cut costs and improved efficiency, but with advertising revenues seemingly in terminal decline at national and regional titles she will need to convince the market the group has a viable growth strategy.
The mining giant Rio Tinto confirmed in mid-July that iron ore production has hit record levels in the first half of the year. With commodity prices hitting new highs, expect to see another record first half with consensus forecasts for $3.5bn in underlying earnings.
Results: First half - Barclays; GKN, Imperial Chemicals; Inchcape; Mapeley; Morgan Crucible; Rio Tinto; Senior; Trinity Mirror; Unilever.
FRIDAY: First half - Anglo American; Greggs; Inmarsat; Millennium & Copthorne Hotels; Royal Bank of Scotland. First quarter - British Airways.Reuse content