The Week Ahead: Stock Exchange data to reveal effects of crunch

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The Independent Online

Today we're casting our gaze further and covering a fortnight. It's Christmas Eve and the London Stock Exchange will close early, while many other international markets are closed completely. These include Japan, where they are marking the Emperor's birthday, which fell yesterday, with a public holiday. The NYSE, which is open today, will take a day off tomorrow, along with the LSE and almost every other major world market the exception is that Japan returns to work.

The LSE is expected to publish a round-up of the past 12 months this week. We'll find out about the number of new issues and their worth, and learn how the exchange did in comparison to foreign counterparts. Last week's Ernst & Young report on global IPO activity gave us some clues: the accountant calculated that a total of 1,739 IPOs raised $225bn (113bn) in the 11 months to November, of which Europe, the Middle East and Africa had a 45 per cent share. E&Y said that emerging markets led the way, with Brazil, Russia, India and China raising a total of $106.5bn from 382 deals, almost half of the world total. China had the biggest piece of the pie, raising $52.6bn, while the US, with $38.7bn, and Brazil, with $29bn, came in second and third.

According to the E&Y report, the LSE attracted 10 per cent of the world total on the back of a couple of large Russian deals, such as VTB Bank and Pik Group.

It will be interesting to scan the official numbers for the impact of the squeeze in the credit markets, which led to a dip in the volume of mergers and acquisitions, according to Dealogic, the data provider. The second half of the year saw worldwide volumes sink dramatically, dropping by 26 per cent. September, around the time the crunch began to bite, was the slowest as volume slumped to its lowest since November 2005. Dealogic said that the number of private equity deals also collapsed as volumes dropped by 65 per cent in the second half.

The London Stock Exchange figures are expected to be made public towards the end of this week.

Today: Bright Things, the digital entertainment company set up by former executives from Eidos, the video game publisher known for its Lara Croft character and the Tomb Raider games, is holding an extraordinary general meeting to push through a share placing and approve an acquisition. This follows an announcement last month, when the company revealed that it had signed an acquisition agreement with Commonworld, a creator of web-based social networking platforms. We hope the shareholders, who will brave the winds to attend the meeting while others prepare to welcome Santa, have a very merry Christmas.

Results: None.

Tomorrow, Wednesday: Public holidays

Thursday: No major announcements.

Friday: Sportingbet, the online gambling and betting company, will hold its annual general meeting. The company issued a first-quarter update earlier this month, revealing that the amount of money being bet on its platform in the three months to the end of October was up to 290.9m, compared to 260.7m last year. Dresdner Kleinwort said that the results were marginally ahead of expectations, pointing out "growth in the online gambling market continues and Sportingbet remains a market leader in an industry with high barriers to entry". The broker thinks investors should buy, and has set an 85p target price for the company's stock, which was trading at 50.75p on Friday.

Daniel Stewart, another broker, was also optimistic about the company, raising its target price for the stock by 20 per cent following the recent update. The AGM is unlikely to bear any surprises, with a short update about trading conditions.

Results: None.

Monday 31 Dec: British Airways comes out with its December traffic and capacity update. BA won't be releasing any financial information, but data about the traffic on the airline during the Christmas period will help investors tune their expectations.

Results: None.

Tuesday 1 Jan: Public holiday.

Wednesday 2 JAN: No major announcements.

Thursday 3 Jan: Finsbury Food Group, the bakery business, will issue one of the first trading updates of the new year. Last month, the company said it had seen strong growth across its seven subsidiaries, despite facing an extra annual bill of 6m owing to food price inflation. Despite the rising costs, Panmure Gordon thinks that the company is "positioned in the most attractive growth markets of the cake and bread industry" and says that the shares are undervalued. The broker thinks that the company's stock, which closed at 85.5p last week, is undervalued and has set a target price of 145p, forecasting a 25 per cent growth in earnings. January's update should shed some light on trading in the Christmas period.

Friday 4 jan: No major announcements.