The week ahead: New round in battle of the skyscrapers


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The Independent Online


Arriving at the airport to board a Ryanair flight fills most people with dread. The weighing of the suitcase and the scramble to wear as many of the clothes you need for the trip as possible to not weigh down your tiny carry-on case is a ritual that most wish they didn't have to go through. Why do we? Because the flights are so darn cheap.

Ryanair reveals its third-quarter update today, and it follows budget airline rival Easyjet's 9.2 per cent quarterly sales rise .

Ryanair is trying to get clearance from the European Union for its takeover of Aer Lingus, and the regulators have extended their deadline until 6 March. Liberum Capital scribes think Ryanair will benefit from the troubles of other weaker players in Europe, and they rate it a buy with a share price target of €6.

Results/Updates: Seagate Technology, Amino Technologies, Porvair, SThree, Cranswick, Mitie.


The next instalment of the battle of the City skyscraper continues tomorrow. The property company British Land is building its tower, the Cheesegrater (officially known as the Leadenhall Building), and after securing Aon and Amlin as pre-lettings it is now more than half full. But last week, rival Land Securities announced its Walkie Talkie (20 Fenchurch Street) development is now also more than 50 per cent let, and both will be finished next year.

British Land will release its third-quarter update tomorrow, and skyscrapers aside, Investec's Alan Carter prefers British Land to Land Securities, as he likes its "superior retail and lower risk strategy". He rates it a buy with a 600p price target.

Results/Updates: Mattioli Woods, NWF, PZ Cussons, Aquarius Platinum, Carpetright, William Hill.


The water group United Utilities has been the subject of takeover rumours for months, but traders have been getting thirsty waiting for any bid to emerge. Will the market ease off the takeover speculation on Wednesday, when it will update the City with a trading statement? Recently Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to neutral and gave it a share price target of 740p.

The group, which provides water and sewage services in the north-west of England, has recently agreed with the regulator Ofwat on changes to the way water rates are set, and analysts expect its results to be in-line with expectations.

Results/Updates: Renishaw, Safestore, Antofagasta, Polymetal International.


The City has been waiting for the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to start its spending spree ever since chief executive Pascal Soriot axed the share buybacks last October, shortly after he arrived at the group. The move was regarded as a signal that the cash pot would be used to fill up its medicine cabinet.

Mr Soriot has been reorganising the business, and earlier this month restructured the research team. But so far nothing has happened on the takeover front. AstraZeneca will release its full-year results on Thursday, and analysts at Société Générale rate the stock a sell, with a 2,675p share price target.

Results/Updates: British Sky Broadcasting, Diageo, Haynes Publishing, Rank, Royal Dutch Shell, Air Partner, Babcock International, Brewin Dolphin, Enterprise Inns, Euromoney Institutional Investor, Great Portland Estates, Hansa Trust, Investec, Kazakhmys, Kcom, Mitchells & Butlers, Titon, Vedanta Resources.


We finish the week with something sweeter. Sweet-toothed analysts at Berenberg Bank rate the sweetener specialist Tate & Lyle a buy ahead of its trading statement on Friday. Investors have been concerned about sweetener pricing, but Berenberg thinks there is plenty of growth for 2013, and gave it a 950p share price target.

Results/Updates: BT, Electrocomponents.

Economics Diary


Hometrack housing survey, Nationwide house prices data


Germany's GfK Consumer Sentiment survey


Net consumer credit figures, M4 money supply figures, Mortgage approvals data


UK GfK Consumer confidence survey for January


UK Purchasing Managers' Index - manufacturing