The Week Ahead: Merger potential helps BG to step on the gas

TODAY: Results: Full year - United Clearing. Interims - None.

TOMORROW: Credit Suisse First Boston expects first half results from Electrocomponents to not only reveal a tough trading environment, but also to show that the electronics distributor is struggling to find direction. The Swiss broker worries that just as the group's rival, Premier Farnell, is cutting costs, restructuring elements of its UK operation and keeping a tight rein on capital allocation, Electrocomponents' IT budget is escalating and its UK market share losses are widening. Investors should not be surprise to see the group report a drop in pre-tax profits of about 30 per cent to £34m.

Results: Full year - Careforce Group; AB Foods; Connaught. Interims - BG Group; Cable & Wireless; Charles Stanley; Comino; Celsis International; Dicom; Electrocomponents; Ferraris; Marks & Spencer; nCipher; Yell Group.

WEDNESDAY: Results: Full year - Fenner. Interims - Aveva; First Group; Wincanton; Volex; Robert Wiseman.

THURSDAY: The energy giant ScottishPower is due to unveil first half figures but investors will be more interested in an update on the status of takeover discussions with E.On. The German utility is also expected to report results on Thursday. It has said nothing about its plans for ScottishPower since confirming its interest in acquiring the group on 5 September.

ScottishPower will fit in well with E.On's Powergen business in the UK and most brokers believe a tie-up will eventually be concluded between the two companies. Last week Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein said: "We are still of the view that an E.ON bid at 600p plus for ScottishPower is more likely than not."

As for ScottishPower's first half results, the City forecasts a solid performance as rising power prices drive profit growth. A rise in pre-tax profits to around £515m from £441m last time around is likely.

SABmiller's interim results will see the brewing giant deliver strong profit growth. At the pre-tax level, profits are tipped to rise to $1.2bn from $1bn last year and thanks the group's recent acquisition of Bavaria there is little doubt about the company's future earnings growth. Once the Bavaria acquisition is fully integrated, SAB will generate more than 80 per cent of its profits from the fast growing emerging markets of Africa, Asia (China and India), Latin America and Eastern Europe. This should help SAB to easily outperform its peers, whose businesses are weighted towards the more pedestrian markets of Western Europe and North America.

BT Group investors are hoping the telecom carrier's second quarter results will boost its shares. The stock's performance has been somewhat lacklustre of late. Williams de Broë believes the most important numbers for investors to look out for are underlying sales growth, the interim dividend and the rate of growth of BT's retail broadband subscriptions. The broker hopes to see the group unveil sales of £4.8bn and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £1.4bn. It predicts BT will increase its interim dividend by 8 per cent to 4.2p a share. With BskyB poised to enter the broadband market following its recent acquisition of Easynet, BT needs to act to increase the number of its retail subscribers.

Invensys' second quarter results will be presented for the first time by the engineer's new chief executive, Ulf Henriksson. The troubled group has become more stable in recent years and cost-reduction programmes are beginning to come through. Nevertheless, Invensys remains highly indebted and there is still a long way to go before March 2008, the first opportunity to refinance the company. Therefore it is no surprise that of the 14 brokers covering the stock, not one has a buy rating on it.

Results: Full year - Punch Taverns. Interims - 3i Group; BT Group; BTG; Dairy Crest; Invensys; Peacock; Radstone Technology; Royal & Sun Alliance; SABmiller; Scottish Power.

FRIDAY: Results: Full year -IDMos. Interims - Whitehead Mann.