The Week Ahead: There are concerns ABF may have to cut forecasts at its sugar division


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The Independent Online

Investors will be closely scrutinising Associated British Foods’ first-half results tomorrow.

There are concerns that ABF may have to slash forecasts at its sugar division after a calamitous profit warning from German sugar giant Südzucker earlier this month pointed to trouble in the industry.

But booming sales at ABF’s other big business Primark, which now has two stores in France and is plotting further overseas expansion, has led analysts to predict a broadly unchanged outlook.

Also tomorrow, Sports Direct will post a trading statement. Analysts  predict solid numbers despite a share price wobble earlier this month after founder Mike Ashley sold a £200m stake.

Troubled flooring firm Carpetright also updates the market tomorrow, following a profit warning last month. Although sales are up on last year, investors will be concerned by an expected slowdown  in growth since the end  of 2013.

Thursday sees a slew of updates, with consumer goods giant Unilever among them. City consensus expects a slight fall in earnings at the Lynx-to-Cornetto owner.

Astrazeneca, the major pharmaceuticals company, delivers first-quarter results on Thursday. As we report elsewhere on this page, investors will have plenty to ask about potential mergers.

Mining firm Anglo American also has first-quarter results. Investors will be looking for more of the same following a solid rise in profits last year.

The Spirit Pub Company, which owns the Chef and Brewer Pubs, will serve up first-half results, having reported a jump in food and drink sales in the eight weeks to March 1. The company is forecast to report another increase  in sales.

Turning to Friday, the last major report of the week will be William Hill’s first-quarter numbers, which come against the backdrop of a struggling gambling industry. Ivor Jones at Numis says: “The share price has a wall of worry to climb. We are at a trough in terms of trading and uncertainty.”

Publishers Reed Elsevier and Pearson also update the market this week.