Shares: Week Ahead: Festive cheer kicks in early as brewers line up to report results

The corks will be popping this week as the festive season begins in earnest and three of the big drinks companies report their results.

First off the block is Scottish & Newcastle, which has scheduled interim figures today. Two factors could give S&N shareholders a hangover, though, despite a healthy increase in profits from pounds 198m last year to between pounds 210m and pounds 225m this time round.

The first uncertainty centres on S&N's supply deal with Inntrepreneur. The contract, which sees S&N supplying all Inntrepreneur's beer, or around 1 million barrels a year, goes out to tender in March 1998. The second potential downside is the havoc the strong pound has been wreaking on S&N's Center Parcs leisure division. Although observers have suggested the sale of the division could raise pounds 1bn, S&N has strenuously denied it is considering such an option.

Drinks pundits would love to toast Bass as it splashes out on a big acquisition. The company has been thwarted in its expansion attempts. Its planned purchase of Carlsberg-Tetley was blocked by the Department of Trade and Industry and Nomura beat Bass to the William Hill betting shops.

So analysts expect to see some success on the acquisition front soon, and believe that Bass is far more likely to spend its war-chest on a shopping spree than on buying back shares. Disposals are probably more likely to be announced than acquisitions, though, when Bass reports its full-year results on Wednesday. Forecasts for pre-tax profits range from pounds 720m to pounds 735m, against pounds 674m last year.

Grand Metropolitan takes a final bow when it reports full-year results on Thursday, its last as an independent company before it gets swallowed up by Guinness to form Diageo. Expectations for pre-exceptional pre-tax profits range from pounds 970m to pounds 990m, against pounds 965m.

Carlton Communications reports full-year figures on Wednesday. Shares in the broadcasting group have had a bumpy ride since it won the right to transmit digital terrestrial television services in the summer.

The City has been worried about the risks associated with setting up digital, and will be looking for reassurance the day after tomorrow.

British Digital Broadcasting, Carlton's digital TV joint venture with Granada, has not yet been formally granted a licence, as the European Commission is still looking over the regulatory issues. Carlton would assuage the market's fears if it could give news of progress here, or any hints of changes the European competition authorities may impose as a condition of granting the licence. A large chunk of the presentation to the City will focus on digital plans.

A promise that BDB will have its services up and running by autumn 1998 would help Carlton's share price. But many believe that, with the delay in Brussels, launching next year would be impossible as the set-top boxes which unscramble the digital signals will not be ready.

Many analysts are hoping Carlton will announce a share buy-back, although others feel excess cash would be better spent on digital projects. Panmure Gordon estimates that the group will have pounds 40m in cash by the year end. The market is looking for full-year pre-tax profits between pounds 324.5m and pounds 338m, compared to pounds 295.7m last year.

Most of the other media stocks reporting this week are radio companies. GWR Group, owner of Classic FM, reveals its interims on Wednesday, providing an opportunity for the City to quiz it about its biggest shareholder, DMG Radio. News emerged at the beginning of November that DMG, which is owned by the Daily Mail & General Trust, was considering selling its 19 per cent stake, just months after Capital Radio sold its 13 per cent share of the group. If DMG sold, it would put GWR into play. Analysts will also want a progress report on GWR's plans for digital radio. The house broker predicts pre-tax profits of pounds 14.1m for the year to the end of March 1998, but there were no interim forecasts available. Chrysalis Group and Scottish Radio Holdings also report this week.

Stagecoach will unveil interims tomorrow. The company's shares have been in sharp decline in the past week or so, precipitated by sell advice from Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. The broker said there was a risk that the three rolling stock leasing companies (roscos) would be regulated. Days later, reports suggested John Prescott, deputy prime minister, agreed with the rail regulator, John Swift, that regulation of the roscos should safeguard investment in new trains. Before one-offs, pre-tax profits of pounds 70m to pounds 76.4m are anticipated, compared with pounds 35.5m in the previous period.

Great Universal Stores, Courts and Heal's form the retailing interest next week. Pre-tax interim profits for GUS are likely to come in at up to pounds 243m, against pounds 226.7m; Courts will probably report interim pre-tax profits of around pounds 9.1m, dipping from pounds 9.6m; and maiden full-year pre- tax profits for Heal's are expected to reach pounds 2m to pounds 2.2m.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before