Business Information Service: This Week

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The Independent Online
MONDAY: Bank Holiday. No announcements expected.

TUESDAY: Interim profits at the Westland helicopter group should nudge ahead by about 9 per cent to pounds 11m. Westland has an order book standing at pounds 2bn, but the real benefit of this will not be felt until the latter half of the decade. Also, a rising tax charge will be a drag on earnings for the next few years. But strict cost control and concentration on higher-margin support work will help profits move ahead.

WEDNESDAY: Expect a modest advance at Siebe, with final profits up to about pounds 173m (pounds 169.6m) on the back of benefits from sterling's devaluation. A decline in economic activity in Europe may take the shine off the figures, but Siebe could have news on the acquisition front.

At the half-way stage, Thames Water declared the smallest dividend rise (7.8 per cent) in the sector. So there are expectations of a larger final payment, particularly if final profits are towards the top end of the pounds 240m- pounds 260m range. Sales are forecast to be 7 per cent ahead at pounds 805m, while operating costs may only have risen by 2 per cent.

Final profits at Vosper Thornycroft should be ahead about pounds 3m to pounds 19m, proving that the shipbuilder is surviving the peace dividend well. The order book stands at a healthy pounds 700m and the outlook for future contracts is looking good. Vosper's modest rating has pushed the shares ahead. But further outperformance may be halted because the yield has now fallen to a 15 per cent discount to the market.

Exceptional items both last year and this will disguise what should be good finals from Yorkshire Water. Profits forecasts range from pounds 135m to pounds 142m, and for some time the company has been signposting a flat 1993-4. The raised final dividend should make 21.1p for the year, up 8 per cent.

THURSDAY: Good news should come from Boots, in a market worried about US health reforms and price wars over DIY products and sun-care preparations. Improved sales and margins will boost the balance sheet, and final profits are forecast at around pounds 410m, up 14 per cent, thanks to lower interest payments, down to pounds 18m from pounds 43.1m. Net debt is forecast to fall from pounds 363m to pounds 209m.

Final profits at VSEL are expected to rise about 14 per cent to pounds 54.5m. The company is in good shape, with about pounds 265m in cash. And the order for the Royal Navy's helicopter vessel has helped to secure the shipbuilder's future.

Shares in Norcros have risen strongly thanks to lower interest rates, although half its business depends on the commercial sector. But final profits down 30 per cent to about pounds 11m will not help sentiment.

FRIDAY: Finals from Dunhill, London and Overseas Freight. Interims from Carr's Milling and Chrysalis.

Results: NatWest Securities.

Median economic forecasts: MMS International.

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