The week ahead: No bags bulging with cash as Sainsbury's comes to the City

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J Sainsbury boss Justin King has endured a rough ride since he took over as chief executive in March. Profits warnings, board shake-ups, a plunging share price, takeover speculation and, as he revealed last month, a new turnaround strategy. And on Wednesday he steps up once again to unveil the supermarket chain's interim numbers.

J Sainsbury boss Justin King has endured a rough ride since he took over as chief executive in March. Profits warnings, board shake-ups, a plunging share price, takeover speculation and, as he revealed last month, a new turnaround strategy. And on Wednesday he steps up once again to unveil the supermarket chain's interim numbers.

A fourth profits warning last month has already alerted the City. Prices may be coming down, but competition is tough and sales are also heading south. Shares have been tacking up in recent weeks, though that is nearly all due to takeover speculation.

Operationally, Mr King has warned that recovery is a long-term project, with real profitability improvements not coming through until the second half of 2007. Pre-tax profits at this interim stage are expected to have sunk from £366m to between £125m and £135m. Investors will also want to hear Mr King's thoughts about the crucial festive period.

Other retailers addressing the market include Dixons, which updates on trading, and MFI Furniture, where the focus will be on the management's progress in sorting out supply chain problems. Online travel agent ebookers, Mothercare, Majestic Wine, GUS and Burberry have results due.

Alongside the dependable Argos, GUS owns credit business Experian and is the majority investor in the Burberry fashion label, with a 66 per cent stake. It has given itself two years to review the structure of the group, but many in the City have already decided they would like to see a break-up.

Questions will be asked at the interims, but definitive answers are unlikely to be forthcoming. Instead, as with most retailers, the focus will be on Christmas. GUS has already warned that revenue growth at Argos slowed in the second quarter as consumer spending waned, but most are hoping the festive season will change that. Group pre-tax profits are expected to have risen from £353m to £400m.

At Burberry, analysts expect solid numbers as consumers worldwide, particularly the so- called "chavs", continue their love affair with all things check.

From shops to the goods on the shelves: the new chief executive of Northern Foods, Pat O'Driscoll, unveils interim numbers and the results of her strategic review. Cost savings have already been announced, though the market believes further cutbacks could be forthcoming. There is also specu- lation that the fresh food specialist could be considering a change in strategy on share buybacks following the recent departure of finance director Sean Christie after 25 years.

Other companies to look out for are mobile phone specialists Vodafone, mmO 2 and Virgin, media groups Chrysalis, Emap, Scottish Radio Holdings and EMI, and National Grid Transco.

SABMiller, the world's fourth- largest brewer, listed in both London and South Africa, is also reporting. Earnings growth is likely to be robust, helped by the strong rand and strong trading in South Africa and Europe.

The US, where the group owns Miller, is likely to be the weak spot, and many in the City believe the outlook for the industry could become gloomier as the popularity of wine and spirits continues to beer dent sales.

But SABMiller has said it will still be seeking suitable bolt-on acquisitions, particularly in emerging markets, so investors will be interested to hear of any further developments here.

Staying with leisure, a number of other companies are updating investors. Gaming and hotels group Hilton comments on trading - particularly pertinent after the publication of the Gambling Bill. On an operational level, Ladbrokes is likely to have shown weaker form recently but only because of the volatile nature of betting.

While nightclub business Luminar, which publishes interim results, has no gambling earnings, analysts believe a chunk of its estate could be converted post-deregulation. Meanwhile, smoking in public places and binge drinking remain hot issues.

The third-quarter earnings season has wound down in the US, but a few names will slip in under the wire. These include Hewlett-Packard, Wal-Mart, Gap, Walt Disney and bookseller Barnes & Noble.

Economic news will be plentiful. Key announcements will be the RICS house price survey - to be keenly scrutinised for any further signs of market deterioration - employment data, retail sales numbers and minutes from the Monetary Policy Committee's November interest-rate meeting. As usual, the search will be on for any signs of a further tightening of policy in the coming months.

CALENDAR

Tomorrow 15

UK: Results: (final) Chrysalis, Diploma; (interim) BBI, Burtonwood, Luminar, Majestic Wine, Renold, Thus, William Ransom & Son, Wyndeham Press; (third quarter) ebookers.

Tuesday 16

UK: Results: (F) CamAxys, York Pharma; (I) Burberry, Business Post, Cranswick, Emap, James Cropper, Latchways, Northern Foods, TBI, Vodafone, VT, Whitehead Mann; (Q3) nCipher.

Wednesday 17

UK: Results: (F) Dimension Data Holdings; (I) Genus, J Sainsbury, Land Securities, mmO 2, Scapa, Touchstone.

Thursday 18

UK: Results: F) BOC, Gaming Corp, GUS, Scottish Radio; (I) Berkeley Berry Birch, BPB, GB Group, GYS, Helical Bar, Mothercare, National Grid Transco, Oxford Instruments, SABMiller, SSL International, Transport Systems, Virgin Mobile Holdings; (Q3) Drax Group.

Friday 19

UK: Results: (F) Attentiv Systems; (I) EMI.

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