The Week Ahead: Prudential investors seek glimpse of the future

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The Independent Online

Since his appointment to lead the company, shares in Prudential have jumped by 10 per cent on the expectation he will make a better job of it then his predecessor Jonathan Bloomer. Investors are hoping that the 47-year-old will reinvigorate the group after Mr Bloomer's poor performance.

One major strategic issue Mr Tucker has to decide on is the future of Egg. Prudential controls the online bank via its 79 per cent stake and has already made one attempt at selling it. Although this failed, rumours that a disposal is on the cards persist.

As for the first half results Mr Tucker will unveil, analysts expect them to show a rise in operating profits at the insurer to about £710m from £563m last time around. There is a hope among shareholders that the figures will also herald a rise in the dividend.

TODAY: Reckitt Benckiser has been much rumoured as being interested in buying Boots' consumer healthcare division and its management are bound to face questioning on this topic when the household goods giant unveils its interim results.

Boots said that it wants to sell the maker of Strepsils and Nurofen back in April. A sale memorandum is believed to have been sent out to more than 10 interested parties earlier this month. If Reckitt is interested in the business, it will be up against a number of private equity players along with drug companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Roche. On the issue of Reckitt's figures , investors can expect the household goods giant to reveal an 8 per cent rise in profits boosted by strong sales of new products and a stronger US dollar.

Results: Full year - Osmeteck. Interims - Amino Technologies; Domino's Pizza; EQ Group; Georgica; Pearson; Reckitt Benckiser.

TOMORROW: Cadbury Schweppes is at present embarked on a massive cost savings exercise. The soft drinks to chocolates maker has said it wants to save up to £400m over the period 2004 to 2007. This initiative should support profits growth in the coming years should there be a continued appreciation in the value of the US dollar. Brokers forecast profits at Cadbury to jump to £370m in the first half from £350m last time around.

Williams de Bröe hopes that Reuters' new strategy announcement, due on the same day as its interim results, will boost shares in the information provider. It has its fingers crossed that a new cost savings programme will generate upgrades to earnings forecasts at the group and tells investors not to be surprised if Reuters' interim results exceed its prior guidance of a £110m pre-tax profit.

Results: Full year - Games Workshop. Interims - Cadbury Schweppes; Cookson; Reuters; Yell; Zetex.

WEDNESDAY: Analysts tip first half results from Wolfson Microelectronics to show that profits at the imaging chip maker continue to grow. A rise to $9m from $8.5m can be expected by investors thanks to growing demand for the company's chips, which are used in a variety of portable electronic devices ranging from digital cameras to MP3 players.

Results: Full year - PKL Holdings. Interims - Arc International; BG Group; Croda International; Egg; Electric Word; Flomerics; Prudential; United Business Media; Wolfson Microelectronics

THURSDAY: BT's first quarter tends to be a weaker quarter for cash flows at the fixed line operator, so little in the way of a positive response from group's shares is likely in the wake of its results.

Free cashflow at BT should be close to zero for the first three months of its financial year as traditionally the company faces higher interest payments and higher working capital needs during this period.

Finally, we know that the US Food and Drug Administration's decision to halt production at GlaxoSmithKline's Puerto Rico unit earlier this year has cost the group money, and just how much will become apparent when it unveils second quarter results. Shares in the drugs giant bounced sharply when the settlement with the FDA was reached, but they missed out on the recent stock market rally.

Williams de Bröe expects GSK to post a second quarter pre-tax profit of £1.6bn, up from £1.5bn last year.

Results: Full year - Homestyle. Interims - Alliance Unichem; Alterian; AstraZeneca; Autonomy; Bede; BAT; BT Group; Capita; CSR Group; Elementis; Exel; GlaxoSmithKline; Legal & General; Liberty International; National Express; Northern Rock; Reed Elsevier; Rolls-Royce; Royal Dutch Shell; Shire Pharmaceuticals; Trinity Mirror.

FRIDAY: Results: Full year - Zetar. Interims - Flying Brands; Lloyds TSB; WH Ireland.

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