Business Information Service: This week

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The Independent Online
MONDAY: Final pre-tax profits at Argos are likely to rise by about 2 per cent to pounds 63.5m and the dividend by 5 per cent to 6.7p. Underlying sales growth should reach nearly 6 per cent.

The UK's visible trade balance for February is expected to show a rise to pounds 1.2bn from pounds 1bn in January.

TUESDAY: Property write- downs at P&O will affect final results and the balance sheet, although analysts expect an unchanged dividend of 30.5p. Pre- tax profits are forecast to rise by 9 per cent to pounds 217.4m.

Analysts' predictions for final profits for 1992 at Prudential range between pounds 406m and pounds 452m, against just pounds 267m in 1991. Dividend predictions range from 11.8p to 12p, against 11p last year.

Interim profits at plumbing merchants Wolseley are forecast to rise by 11 per cent to pounds 37.5m, but could rise to pounds 100m at the year-end.

WEDNESDAY: Dismal final results are expected from Geest, with pre-tax profits down by 24 per cent to pounds 20m. Core fresh produce activities have been affected by price disinflation of 20 per cent in the second half.

Kingfisher's results are all but a formality following the Darty acquisition and accompanying rights issue. Final pre-tax profits of pounds 233m (up by 13 per cent) would be at the top end of market expectations.

Lasmo's final profits will have been pegged back by low oil prices coupled with debts left in the aftermath of the Ultramar takeover. Profits of around pounds 33m, up by 8 per cent, would mean little more than break-even in the second half, but the dividend should remain unchanged at 8.5p.

Profits at Weir, the engineering group, should rise by 18 per cent to pounds 38.5m, reflecting further steady progress. Weir has benefited during the recession from its power generation, water and marine activities. A 12 per cent increase in the dividend to 11.25p is anticipated.

THURSDAY: A 13 per cent decline in profits to pounds 90m is expected at Booker, largely as a result of problems at Booker Fitch Food Services. An unchanged final dividend of 19.3p, however, is widely anticipated.

Laing (John) is expected to have swung back into the black in 1992 to the tune of pounds 10m from a pre-tax loss of pounds 65.3m.

The City expects Reckitt & Colman to confirm an upturn in its fortunes even though results for 1992 are likely to show a small dip in operating profits.

United Newspapers' results were up by 20 per cent at the interim stage. Full year results are expected to have risen by only 13 per cent to pounds 96.2m, largely due to a 15 per cent decline in the net interest charge.

Wellcome's interim results will be distorted by sterling's devaluation, but the City is looking for profits up by 30 per cent at pounds 318m. Again, the engine of revenue growth will have been Zovirax, the anti-viral drug used against shingles. A possible 25 per cent increase to 5p in the interim dividend is anticipated.

FRIDAY: Write-offs and falling revenue should dominate finals from HTV Group but analysts say the worst is over.

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

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