The Week Ahead: Traders expect a busy debut for Standard Life

Click to follow

Standard Life, the Scottish life and pensions group, will begin trading today after demutualisation, in the largest stock market flotation since 2000. The group will have a market capitalisation in the region of £4.7bn after the shares were priced at 230p, meaning the company will almost certainly join the FTSE 100 in September.

The share price will come as a disappointment to many investors, after joint house brokers UBS and Merrill Lynch said in April that the shares could begin trading at as much as 290p. Even so, most traders and analysts expect a busy week of trading in the stock as investment managers and tracker funds build up positions, although being a money manager the share price is likely to go up and down in line with global equity markets.

News on Friday that Aviva has made an approach to its US rival AmerUS should also have a positive influence on the first week of trading for Standard Life, with speculation on sector consolidation being one of the few consistencies in the markets this year.

TODAY: Spice Holdings may sound like a curry house but it is in fact the UK's largest installer of water meters. Thanks to the drought that is affecting most of the south of the country, analysts have already pencilled in bumper full year results. Turnover is expected to rise by 52 per cent to £130m and pre-tax profits should follow suit, rising 53 per cent to £8.6m

The word in the market is that results are unlikely to beat forecasts, but traders expect a bullish outlook statement from the company, which also provides outsourcing services for the utility and commercial sectors.

Results: Full year - Proventec; Spice Holdings. First half - St Modwen Properties.

TOMORROW: Rumours of difficult trading at cake maker Inter Link Foods have been rife in the market over the last couple of weeks, although the shares found support at the end of last week. The stock has collapsed from a high of 770p in early March, mainly thanks to a warning in May after a marketing promotion failed to spark a projected sales increase, to close at 342.5p on Friday. The broker Brewin Dolphin is looking for pre-tax profits of £7.4m, up from £5.9m a year earlier.

If analyst expectations are anything to go by, expect a bullish trading update from Marks & Spencer. Stuart Rose has reinvigorated the retailer over the last three years and for most brokers it is now the top pick in the sector. Goldman Sachs upgraded its target price to 691p last week and the broker expects more positive news on current trading.

Results: Full year - Air Music & Media Group; Anite Group; Inter Link foods; iSoft Group.

WEDNESDAY: The management at retailer and consumer credit group GUS have been busy in recent months. Not only is the company in the process of de-merging Experian, the highly-rated consumer credit agency, but also a number of private equity groups are known to have made bid approaches to the group for Experian and the consumer goods retailer Argos. Sector watchers will have a keener eye on what the company says about corporate strategy, although it looks pretty clear that unless a knockout offer is made for Experian the demerger will go ahead in the same way that GUS got rid of Burberry. It looks like the only way a private equity consortium will be able to get Experian is by buying the whole group, something which cannot be written off. However, with a likely price tag in excess of $20bn it would be the biggest buyout since Kohlberg Kravis Roberts bought RJR Nabisco in 1989.

Results: Full year - Avocet Mining; Bespak; Kensington Group. First quarter - GUS.

THURSDAY: Results: No results due.

FRIDAY: There could be an interesting final annual general meeting for BAA, the airports operator that has agreed to a £10.3bn takeover by the Spanish engineering and construction group Ferrovial. Expect to see some criticism of directors cashing in options and multiple references to the Armada as a new era in British airports begins.

After much hype, political wrangling and no small amount of criticism, shares in Rosneft will be priced prior to trading on the London Stock Exchange on 19 July. The controversial float of the Russian oil and gas group, expected to value the company at $80bn, is expected to go ahead without any hiccups after the company managed to fill the book last week. A number of international rivals, including BP and Petronas, the Malaysian national oil producer, are thought to have helped out by taking stakes but the controversy will not stop once the shares start trading.

Following accusations of asset theft and class action lawsuits against the group, Rosneft is unlikely to be out of the headlines for long.

Results: No results due.