The Week Ahead: Miner gives the City a copper-bottomed guarantee of profits

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The Independent Online

The Budget has come and gone, and as the fixation on Gordon Brown fades, City analysts will dive back into their spreadsheets and revenue models to see if companies measure up.

Five months after the raging success of its float, Kazakhmys, the FTSE 100 copper miner led by chairman Vladimir Kim, who is also the company's largest shareholder, will unveil its maiden annual results. It is not expected to disappoint. Brokers Charles Stanley expects a pre-tax profit of $921m (£528m) on strong demand for copper. The location of its operations near China, which seems to have an insatiable appetite for commodities, means its long-term prospects look solid. Investors certainly love it: shares in Kazakhmys have risen more than 76 per cent since it listed in October.

After weeks of gloomy numbers, retail doesn't look set to get much of an uplift this week from Woolworths. The group reports annual results on Wednesday but has already dampened expectations with a January trading statement that revealed it was losing the contract to distribute music and DVDs to Tesco.

In response to its troubles, Woolworths is refurbishing stores, refocusing on selling to children, and stocking merchandise geared to holidays and celebrations. But all that work is still a way off coming through in the company's financials. "We expect profits to go backward," said Robert Brent of brokers KBC Peel Hunt.

Baugur of Iceland, however, which has taken an 8 per cent holding in Woolworths, is thought to be banking on the longer-term revival of the company, rather than a takeover. "They see the value in Woolies as a cash-generative business and their strategy of focus on kids and celebrations is a good one," Mr Brent said

Bookseller Ottakar's is due to publish results on Tuesday, though investors will be most keen for an update on its takeover by HMV - a deal that is still being reviewed by the Competition Commission.

On Wednesday, J Sainsbury is expected to issue a reassuring fourth-quarter trading statement for the 12 weeks to 25 March, indicating that its turnaround is still on course. Goldman Sachs expects it to post a 5.3 per cent boost in UK sales. Data released earlier this month also shows that it has nearly pulled even with Wal-Mart's Asda in terms of market share. Both, however, continue to eat Tesco's dust.

A business in no need of a turnaround is Spanish fashion retailer Inditex. The owner of Zara and Massimo Dutti reports on Wednesday what Williams de Broë expects will be a 20 per cent improvement to fourth- quarter and yearly earnings before tax. The broker predicts €798.5m (£551m) in net income for the quarter, despite the cold weather that may dent sales of spring fashions.

While the unseasonal chill keeping people in their winter clothes may ultimately add to the overall woes of retailers, it is a boon for energy. Medium-sized oil group Burren Energy, still hovering near the all-time share price high reached in January on news of increased output in Yemen and Oman, is expected to post strong numbers as it benefits from the worldwide oil boom.

It may be upstaged, however, by its smaller rival, Dana Petroleum, which unveils its annual numbers on Tuesday. "It is generating $27 a barrel of post-tax cash, which puts it at the head of the [mid-cap] oil universe," said Al Stanton of Bridgewell Securities.

While Barratt Developments may have lost its title as the country's largest homebuilder to Persimmon when the latter bought Westbury last year, analysts expect the company to make good on an earlier cheery trading statement when it publishes half-year results on Tuesday. Charles Stanley expects it to register £176m in pre-tax profits on the back of the construction of social housing and low-cost homes. Barratt informed the City in January that its land bank had increased to more than 63,000 plots - equal to nearly four-and-a-half years of supply.

Brixton, the industrial and warehouse property group, is also set to impress following the integration of Industrious. The purchase of the Midlands-based group last year more than doubled Brixton's tenants, helping it to an expected £56m pre-tax profit on the year, according to Charles Stanley. That compares with £48m the year before.

CALENDAR

Tomorrow 27

UK RESULTS: (final) Alexon, Business Direct, Delcam, Designer Vision, DRS Data and Research Services, Healthcare Locums, Imagesound, Metal Bulletin, MTL Instruments, Omega Underwriting, Real Good Food; (interim) Allergy Therapeutics, Minerva, NeuTec Pharma

Tuesday 28

UK RESULTS: (F) Barr (AG), Brixton, Dana Petroleum, Development Securities, Genemedix, Leisure & Gaming, MWB Business Exchange, NETeller, Ottakar's, Pinewood Shepperton, Smallbone, TT Electronics, UKbetting; (I) Accuma, Finsbury Food, Liberty, Marylebone Warwick Balfour

Wednesday 29

UK RESULTS: (F) Adventis, Corac, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Inditherm, Proximagen Neuroscience, Vislink, Woolworths; (I) Barratt Developments

Thursday 30

UK RESULTS: (F) Afren, Alpha Airports, Burren Energy, Cornwell Management Consulting, Getech, Kazakhmys, LiDCO, Lonrho Africa, Pilat Media Global, Pixology, RC, Sportech, Stem Cell Sciences; (I) Gladstone, James Halstead

Friday 31

UK RESULTS: (F) Advent Capital, Chesnara, Independent Media Distribution, Melrose Resources, Watermark; (I) Polaron

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