The Week Ahead: Senior to reveal cost of clients' troubles

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It is a quiet start to the week for corporate news, although investors will have an update from Senior to dig their teeth into. For punters in the FTSE 250 engineer, which makes automotive and aerospace parts, one worry will have been the news this month that the US engine maker Cummins, a customer, had downgraded its forecasts for the year. Guy Brown, an analyst from Oriel Securities, is not too worried, saying that while this was "clearly disappointing news", he does "not see an impact to numbers".

Results/Updates: e-Therapeutics; Senior.


The broadband and pay-TV giant Virgin Media reports third-quarter results, and analysts will be keen to see how many new and existing subscribers have traded up to the premium TiVo set-top box. Record numbers have signed up to TiVo, but total TV numbers have not been rising much recently amid tough competition.

Analysts at Jefferies warn that the share price, which has been a decent performer, could fall back as "we do not see Virgin Media having scope to commit fresh capital to share buybacks in 2013".

The Costa Coffee and Premier Inn owner Whitbread announces half-year results, with analysts hopeful that the group can continue to buck the gloom after a trading statement in September showed total sales surging 14.8 per cent in the second quarter. Andy Harrison, chief executive, is looking to continue the expansion of the Costa and Premier brands, but the new group finance director, Nicholas Cadbury, hired from Premier Farnell in September, will not be alongside to field questions because he does not start until 14 November.

Results/Updates: Arm Holdings, CSR, Fidessa, C&C, Laird, Premier Foods, Virgin Media, Wolseley, Whitbread


Terry Duddy will face tough questioning from the City as the chief executive of the Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group unveils interim results likely to make grim reading. There have been signs of life at Argos, where demand for tablets and e-readers have driven its first rise in underlying sales for nearly three years. But Homebase was battered by the wettest summer on record, and its sales of big-ticket items such as kitchens continue to struggle, leaving the firm on course for pre-tax profits of just £12.2m – barely a third of the £28m posted a year earlier. Analysts say Mr Duddy could close some underperforming Argos stores. The Deutsche Bank analyst Warwick Okines says: "The focus will be on the long-term strategic outlook for Argos. We see limited chance of a 'silver bullet' solution."

The Cillit Bang-to-Vanish consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser also produces third-quarter figures. The firm withdrew its heroin replacement pill Suboxone in the US last month after a rush of children breaking into their parents' bottles.

Results/Updates: Reckitt Benckiser, Home Retail Group, BAT, Elan, National Express, Sports Direct, Willis


A bumper day for market-moving news, with miners, advertising giants and pharmaceuticals groups all reporting. However, most eyes will be on Debenhams full-year figures, which investors hope will show further signs of a pick-up in the high street.

John Stevenson, Peel Hunt general retail analyst, believes that the news will be upbeat, with "autumnal weather" pushing people into stores to stock up on winter coats. A fall in cotton prices should bolster margins, and disposable income is slowly recovering to the extent that consumers are starting to overhaul their wardrobes.

Investors will also be looking out for the group's stock buyback plans, which will boost the value of their shares. Mr Stevenson thinks that Debenhams will look to buy about £40m of stock. Pre-tax profit is forecast to be around £160m, marginally down on last year.

Results/Updates: Anglo American, Asos, AstraZeneca, BHP Billiton, Bloomsbury Publishing, Inchcape, Kazakhmys, Shire, Unilever, WPP


African Barrick Gold will unveil third-quarter results. While investors will be hoping for an improvement on a disappointing second-quarter performance, when rising costs knocked pre-tax profits, they will be much more interested to hear the latest on the takeover talks. Shares in the African arm of the world's biggest gold miner are trading a fifth higher than in mid-August when China emerged as a suitor. The state-owned China National Gold wants to buy Barrick's 74 per cent stake in the business, which it spun off in 2010. On 4 September, African Barrick Gold said it had formed a "transaction committee" to examine the deal. Since then investors have heard nothing. Maybe the silence will be broken today.

Results/Updates: African Barrick Gold, Elementis.

Economics Diary

Today Bank of England Asset Purchase Facility quarterly report

Tomorrow BBA mortgage approvals. Eurozone consumer confidence

Wednesday CBI Industrial trends survey; HSBC manufacturing pmi for China; Germany IFO Business Climate index; US interest rate announcement

Thursday UK third-quarter GDP (first estimate), Index of services

Friday US third-quarter GDP