Business Information Service: This Week

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The Independent Online
MONDAY: Disappointing finals from Pearson, with pre-tax profits down to about pounds 134m, are likely to confirm fears about its earnings performance. Analysts say belated cost-cutting by Westminster Press has not instilled confidence that the earnings downgrade cycle is over. Do not expect the earnings peak to be restored much before 1996.

Profits from Hickson International should rise substantially to around pounds 28m thanks to restructuring and high overseas exposure. A good performance from the chemicals division is unlikely to be matched by the coatings operation.

Interims from Lucas Industries will be only marginally better than the break-even reached last time, perhaps up to about pounds 2.4m. The company has pinned hopes on the second half, believing it can achieve the pounds 70m for the full year necessary to cover the dividend.

TUESDAY: Pre-tax losses of about pounds 72m will underline the depths of the property recession for Taylow Woodrow, though analysts feel the company is on its way back and dividends will grow in the future as investors plough back into land. This time round the dividend will be about 1p, down from 9.5p.

Waterford Wedgwood seems finally to have put its house in order after years of poor profits and industrial relations strife. Although figures will show a pounds 20m loss after charges for restructuring, markets are improving.

WEDNESDAY: The shares of Central TV have dramatically outperformed, though as will be shown, they are well underpinned by the trading outlook. Pre-tax numbers will be up around 67 per cent to pounds 40.5m, giving a 65 per cent rise in earnings. Expect a nice rise in the dividend, by about 28 per cent to 38.5p.

THURSDAY: A small profits rise to about pounds 166.8m should be reported by Burmah Castrol, with the core lubricants business doing well in the US, offsetting a slowdown in Europe. The City will be watching closely for the impact on of Germany's economic slowdown.

LWT should report pre-tax profits up about 13 per cent to pounds 28.4m. The company's strategic position within the London network alongside Thames and Carlton means it has attracted a lot of attention. A full merger is probably out, though further co-operation will help cut costs.

The full extent of the turnaround at Next will be demonstrated with profits up more than double to about pounds 132m. Next is cash rich, and is expected to be upbeat about current sales at Next Retail. A big increase in the dividend is expected, from 0.75p to 2.4p.

The Bundesbank Council meeting is likely to pass without incident, and there is no expectation of a change in either the Discount or Lombard rates.

FRIDAY: UK official reserves data for March are expected to how no change in the underlying level, reflecting little or no intervention by the Bank of England.

Results: NatWest Securities. Median economic forecasts: MMS International.

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