The ailing retailer Marks & Spencer, scene of a recent boardroom bust-up over its outgoing chairman, Paul Myners, is thought to have taken another hit on its clothing and homeware ranges.
There is speculation that the group's clothing sales have been badly affected by the weather, compared with the same period last year when a mini-heatwave boosted the figures. In a worst-case scenario, M&S may have suffered double-digit percentage falls in sales within its various divisions in recent weeks - especially after rivals including Next confirmed that the high street suffered this spring.
While M&S is not expected to update the market on current trading when it releases its annual results tomorrow, the City will be looking for any clues the company may give away.
Investors are prepared for bad news, with analysts forecasting pre-tax profits of some £620m, for the year to the end of March, down from £805m a year earlier. On a like-for-like basis, non-food sales are thought to be 7 per cent down, and even the once-dependable food division is predicted to report a 2 per cent fall for the period.
Shareholders will want to know what Stuart Rose, the chief executive, and Kate Bostock, the director of womenswear, are doing to resuscitate clothing sales. The City believes the pair havebeen in their respective posts long enough to have a credible plan. Mr Rose, in particular, who was appointed a year ago, has played a major role in putting together the spring/summer 2005 clothing ranges. Some are hopeful that Mr Rose will announce a £1bn plan to reinvigorate M&S stores, along the lines of its successful trial format at a store in Shoreham, West Sussex.
TODAY: Results: Full-year - London Merchant, Mitie, BSS Group, Thus.
TOMORROW: A rounded picture of the state of the advertising market ought to emerge from results tomorrow from the media group Emap. Important detail will also come from ITV and the Daily Mail group this week.
Emap has interests in consumer magazines, business-to-business publishing and radio, plus a range of consumer titles in France. Rather than the full-year results, which are forecast to show a slight increase in pre-tax profits to £202m, the City is interested in the statement on current trading.
At its latest update, at the end of March, it said sales in France were weak. This time, that weakness is likely to have crossed the Channel as the group's rivals have revealed that radio advertising sales have plummeted in recent weeks. Emap's business-to-business interests are likely to have felt a weakening in recruitment advertising. But if its consumer magazines have also been hit by a slump, together with increased competition in key markets such as men's magazines, the picture will look even bleaker.
The other point of interest is Emap's intentions for the radio operator SRH, in which it has a 27 per cent stake. A full bid for SRH is imminent, and recent weakness in trading at SRH may mean that Emap chooses to move soon - possibly announcing a bid with its figures this week.
Results from easyJet will be inspected closely to see if the drop in consumer spending has hit budget airlines. There has been no sign of a decline so far but some believe that cheap weekends away couldsuffer if there is a tightening of consumer belts.
The carrier's half-year losses are expected to widen slightly, from £18.5m to £24m, for its seasonally weak first half. The outlook statement - with any indications on future fare pricing - and the continuing impact of high fuel prices will be keenly watched to identify whether the company is likely to meet full-year forecasts.
Results: Full-year - Burberry, Emap, EMI, Great Portland Estates, Homeserve, Icap, Marks & Spencer, Scottish Power, Vodafone. Interims - easyJet, Shaftesbury, Topps Tiles.
WEDNESDAY:The retail giantGUS reported its first quarterly fall in sales for six years at its Argos stores in April, but figures at Experian, its credit-checking arm, climbed. The company said in April that shoppers had cut back on buying furniture and other big-ticket items.
There is also a lot of interest in the group's long-term structure, with a break-up on the cards. Gus's full-year pre-tax profits are expected to climb to £949m, from £827m previously.
Results:Full year - British Land, Dairy Crest, De La Rue, Electrocomponents, GUS, Kelda, Luminar.Interims - Paragon. AGMs: Kesa, Catlin.
THURSDAY:Results: Full-year: Cable & Wireless, Pennon, Pilkington, Virgin Mobile, Babcock, BTG, Chloride. Interims- Daily Mail & General Trust. First quarter - InterContinental Hotels, Kingfisher. AGMs/ Updates - ITV, Barclays, Friends Provident, WM Morrison, Rentokil Initial.
FRIDAY: Results - Interims - Arla Foods, AGMs/Updates: HSBC, Royal & SunAlliance.
- More about: