Business Information Service: This Week

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The Independent Online
MONDAY: Expect a good set of interims from Carlton Communications, with profits up about 16 per cent to pounds 57.2m and earnings up 11 per cent to 19.1p. The strongest-performing division should be video and sound products. The City will be looking for comment on the first three months of trading at the new broadcasting division and any hint of long-term plans regarding Channel 3.

South Staffordshire Water should set a trend for the water companies' results season with final profits up 9 per cent to pounds 9.5m and a dividend of about 45p, up 12 per cent.

Underlying trade volumes are expected to falter in April as the recent pick-up in exports runs out of steam. The overall non-EC trade deficit is likely to widen from pounds 918m to pounds 1.1bn.

TUESDAY: Argyll should see a pounds 60m rise in final profits to pounds 420m, with further increases over the next two years. Better sales in the future from Safeway and an inflation rate running at around 4 per cent have led analysts to upgrade their forecasts. Many believe the fear of a margin squeeze sparked by the rise of the discount sector has been overdone. Expect a dividend of about 10.75p - an increase of 10 per cent.

The spectacular growth of Betterware, the door-to-door sales company, should continue, with final profits up 76 per cent to pounds 12.5m on turnover up from pounds 42m to pounds 59m. Longer term, however, the company must grow overseas to sustain this success. So any comment about future plans abroad will be closely monitored.

WEDNESDAY: Cyclical recovery and the devaluation of sterling, the lira and the peseta will help Courtaulds turn in final results under FRS 3 of about pounds 190m, only slightly up. With 30 per cent of sales going to continental Europe, and with a heavy exposure to the marine and aerospace markets, earnings growth will lag the market in future and shares are expected to remain dull. The dividend will be about 13.6p (13p).

The performance of North West Water's shares in the past six months implies that investors are not yet ready to take on board its aim to be a model utility. However, the success in winning overseas contracts will boost the profits stream over the next few years. The final profits should be about pounds 245m, up 7 per cent, with a dividend up about 9 per cent to 21.4p.

THURSDAY: Final profits up about 27 per cent to pounds 600m at National Power should reflect the benefit of further cost cutting without the adverse impact of exceptional costs. However, the fear of regulatory interference could cast a shadow over future profits.

Modest final figures up pounds 2m to pounds 92m are forecast for South West Water. And the expected dividend, about 23.4p for the year, would be a below-average increase. But at the operating level, South West should show a significant margin gain to reassure investors, say analysts.

FRIDAY: Final figures from Castings, Cheam Group and East Surrey Holdings.

Results: NatWest Securities.

Median economic forecasts: MMS International.

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