The week ahead: M&S prepares to deliver 'awful' figures as C&W slashes jobs

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Shareholders should brace themselves. Two giants from two very different sectors - Cable & Wireless and Marks & Spencer - will report results, and the news is likely to be gloomy from both.

Shareholders should brace themselves. Two giants from two very different sectors - Cable & Wireless and Marks & Spencer - will report results, and the news is likely to be gloomy from both.

At M&S, chief executive Stuart Rose looks set to have yet more bad news to impart. Rumours have been circulating that current trading is, in the words of one senior retail analyst, "frankly awful".

And, as Mr Rose undoes the old management's plans, the interim numbers are expected to include around £80m of one-off costs, largely relating to the failed Lifestore concept.

On a brighter note, a further update on his turnaround strategy is expected, and investors should also hear more about his continuing brand review.

C&W is expected to dash hopes of a recovery in its core UK telecoms business by announcing plans for yet another restructuring. Having already revealed plans to make 1,500 people redundant, the new cost-cutting drive at the global telecoms giant - intended to strip out £40m and help offset a dip in revenues - is expected to put hundreds more jobs on the line. In addition, chief executive Francesco Caio is likely to take direct responsibility for the UK business. There had been speculation that Royston Hoggarth, the chief executive of the UK arm, may resign in protest, but well-placed sources say this is unlikely.

C&W and M&S may be leading the corporate newsflow, but economics will also be high on the agenda when the US Federal Reserve meets to discuss interest rates.

The consensus is for a quarter-point hike, so arguably even more important will be any hints in the accompanying statement about what the Fed plans to do in the coming weeks.

HSBC economist John Butler says: "The key focus will be the text, to glean hints of what the Fed will do in December, given that the odds of another hike are currently 50:50."

Back home, and other companies addressing the market include British Airways. The carrier has had a bumpy few months, with improving demand tempered by summer chaos at airports and the soaring cost of fuel.

Pre-tax profits are still predicted to rise, however, from £105m to £176m, with revenues pushing through the £2bn mark. Investors should expect an update on the debt-reduction and cost-cutting programmes as well.

Less cheerful will be the update from Invensys. The beleaguered engineering group will probably produce yet another loss at this second-quarter stage, with chief executive Rick Haythornthwaite predicting that recovery is still a year away. Most are confident that he will not, contrary to City gossip, announce plans to quit.

Speaking of the beleaguered - Marconi also announces figures. Little is likely to have changed since the disappointing update a few weeks ago. Sales are expected to be weak, while marketing costs will have risen as it strives to regain market share. Marconi last week waved goodbye to chief operating officer Mike Donovan, who is departing with more than £4m in compensation and share options.

Elsewhere, Imperial Tobacco is reporting. Market chatter has it lining up Franco-Spanish rival Altadis as a potential takeover, but the company is not expected to make any formal comment on this tomorrow.

Chief executive Gareth Davis should discuss what will be done with the company's cash - both bolt-on acquisitions and share buybacks are options. But he is unlikely to divulge targets, timings or values.

Other companies to watch out for include Pearson, the media group and Financial Times owner, which will provide an update on trading. There are concerns that advertising has weakened at the FT, while the group has already said it expects flat revenue growth in the second half at its schools business.

Another media company in the spotlight is BSkyB, which announces first-quarter figures - the first numbers since it unveiled its new targets and marketing strategy in the summer.

In insurance, Royal & SunAlliance is posting third-quarter numbers, and few analysts believe these will be worse than the same time last year, when the market was presented with a large loss and £1bn rights issue. Instead, the City is hoping for a continuance of its reassuring underwriting performance.

The UK's busy week is mirrored overseas. Keep an eye out for US network giant Cisco, cosmetics group Revlon, coffee bar chain Starbucks, European banks such as Germany's Commerzbank and Bank of Ireland, Italian clothing group Benetton and Deutsche Telekom, the owner of mobile phone group T-Mobile.

CALENDAR

Tomorrow 12

UK: Results: (final) Carr's Milling Industries, Disperse Technologies, Imperial Tobacco, VTR; (interim) Uniq; (second quarter) British Airways.

Tuesday 13

UK: Results: (F) Ferraris; (I) Big Yellow Group, Chamberlin & Hill, Comino, Electrocomponents, ITIS Holdings, Kewill Systems, Marchpole Holdings, Marks & Spencer; (first quarter) Dicom Group; (Q2) Marconi; (third quarter) CSR.

Wednesday 14

UK: Results: (F) Associated British Foods, Fenner; (I) Aveva, Cable & Wireless, Dairy Crest, Peacock, Radstone, Vectura, Volex, Yell; (Q2) Scottish Power.

Thursday 15

UK: Results: (F) Punch Taverns; (I) Big Food, BT, BTG, Invensys, London Stock Exchange, Young & Co's Brewery, Wincanton; (Q3) BG, Royal & SunAlliance.

Friday 16

UK: Results: (F) Minorplanet Systems; (I) Hornby; (Q1) BSkyB.

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