The Week Ahead: Powerhouse Tesco expected to take a breather

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The Independent Online

Amid a quiet week for earnings, Tesco's first-half results tomorrow will attract the most attention. The UK's largest retailer rarely unveils any huge surprises, but the restatement of last year's accounts has muddied the waters.

Adding to the confusion will be the inclusion of property sales in the underlying operating profit figure, a shift in its accounting policy and an increase in the reported trading period to 26 weeks from 24 last year. Also of interest will be comments about its operations in Thailand and Hungary, given recent political disturbances there. An update on progress at its non-food website is also sought.

Last week, Citigroup raised its forecast for earnings-per-share growth to 21.3p, a 12 per cent rise, driven by Tesco's expansion plans in the UK and overseas.

Although strong growth at the revenue line is anticipated, many followers expect the shares to pause for breath. JP Morgan and Oddo Securities anticipate a decline in UK margins due to higher energy bills, increased pension costs and lower property gains.

TODAY: Avanti Screenmedia has had a busy week. After winning a deal with Spar to install promotional screens across 200 stores, it extended its trial with Woolworths and won a deal to sell advertising across Motional Media's network of bus screens.

The outlook is expected to be buoyant. ABN Amro expects sales of £12.7m and pre-tax profit of £3m.

Tate & Lyle, the sugar producer, will update the market on first-half trading following a confident July trading statement.

However, with the shares trading near an all-time high after gaining 200p between May and August, Investec Securities believes the update may have to be "explosive" to drive shares meaningfully higher. The broker expects strong interim results, but said the outlook might not look so rosy due to a number of developments in the commodity markets.

Results: Full year - Avanti, Petra Diamonds. Trading updates: Northern Rock, Severn Trent, Speedy Hire, Tate & Lyle.

TOMORROW: House of Fraser holds its extraordinary general meeting to approve the £351m sale of the department store to the Icelandic investment firm Baugur. After a three-year pursuit by Baugur, shareholders are expected to wave through the takeover.

The focus will be on John Coleman, the chief executive, who has said he wants to stay on at the business despite speculation that Baugur will replace him.

Results: First half - EG Solutions, Tesco. Full year: Powerleague. Extraordinary general meeting: House of Fraser.

WEDNESDAY: All eyes will be on Misys, the software developer at the centre of a protracted takeover struggle. The company is holding its annual meeting and shareholders are set to voice their concerns.

Some shareholders will look to confront management, specifically Kevin Lomax who founded the company and remains the chief executive, over the handling of takeover negotiations. That's if Mr Lomax is still there - speculation persists he could resign as early as today.

In July, Misys said it had been approached about a management buyout proposal led by Mr Lomax, and an independent committee was established to evaluate proposals for the business.

Yet, over recent weeks, rival bidders, including the US software companies SunGard and Fiserv, have left the bidding process, which has put pressure on the share price. Meanwhile, Mr Lomax's initial bid has been deemed to be too low and there is as yet little sign a fresh approach will be made in time for the AGM.

BP will release its oil and gas production levels during the third quarter, with analysts expecting a marginal increase in volumes despite the partial closure of the Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska.

Results: Full year - Fonebak. Trading updates: BP, British Airways, Innovation Group, Ryanair. Annual general meeting: Misys. Extraordinary general meeting: BAe Systems.

THURSDAY: The clothing retailer Ted Baker is expected to buck the trend in a tough UK retail market when it reports first-half results. Investec is looking for pre-tax profits of £6.7m. However, the key focus will be on the company's international expansion programme with its licence partners set to open five stores in the Middle East and Far East during the second half.

In the recruitment sector, Michael Page will issue a third-quarter trading update. Last week, UBS upgraded its rating on the shares to "buy" and upped its target price to 420p. UBS said it expects third-quarter revenue growth of 27 per cent.

Results: First half - Ted Baker. Trading Updates: Halfords, Michael Page, Sarantel.

FRIDAY: Results: Trading update - easyJet.

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