The Week Ahead: Analysts predict festive cheer at Morrisons

City analysts expect Morrisons to outshine its peers when the supermarket group provides an update on its performance over the festive season this week. The company is expected to say that, excluding fuel and VAT, sales at stores open at least a year climbed 6.3 per cent in the six-week period to 3 January, according to a Reuters poll of 10 analysts. The forecast is better than broadly comparable figures from Tesco and J Sainsbury, both of whom issued updates earlier this month.

Beyond the figures, the company is likely to be quizzed on who might replace Marc Bolland at the helm. Evolution, which expects the sales numbers to be "considerably higher than the sector average", said Morrisons' shares will be held back by uncertainty until the question of the new chief executive is resolved. "This may not matter long term but it is essential that sales momentum is retained," the broker said. "For this reason, we encourage a rapid conclusion to the chief executive search. With the strategy in place and good results coming through, the appointment should not be controversial."



Today: The house builder Taylor Wimpey is expected to speak of stabilising trends in the UK and the US when it issues a trading update this morning. "Taylor Wimpey's embedded land-bank margin should have benefited from cost savings, price inflation and re-planning of sites, which alongside a higher average sales price, could lead to small upgrades for 2010," Numis said in a preview note last week. The broker expects the market to focus on comments regarding the treatment of the unrecognised deferred tax assets, which it said amounted to around 23p per share, or 13p if the UK assets are considered in isolation.

Also today, the internet fashion retailer Asos is due to issue an update. FinnCap said the company should have performed well over the festive period, highlighting the news from Marks & Spencer, which recently said that its online sales advanced by 32 per cent in the 13 weeks to Boxing Day. John Lewis also enjoyed strong online demand over the Christmas period, the broker added.



Results/updates: Asos ; Taylor Wimpey.



Tomorrow: Numis expects a 38 per cent rise in revenues when Chemring, the military goods maker, issues preliminary results tomorrow. Revenues are forecast to swell to £489m, while pre-tax profits are expected to rise to £109.5m, up 48 per cent. The year-end debt figure is expected to come in at £124m – that does not factor in the acquisition of Hi Shear, which lifts Numis' 2010 net debt forecast to £150m.

Also tomorrow, hopes are running high ahead of Game Workshop's half yearly results. In a recent trading update, the company said that pre-tax profits for the year to the end of May were likely to be some £5m ahead of market hopes, prompting KBC Peel Hunt to switch its stance on the stock to "buy".



Results/updates: Alterian, IG Group, Land Securities, Games Workshop, Carphone Warehouse, Burberry.



Wednesday: Results/updates: Kesa Electricals, William Hill, Hochschild Mining, Great Portland Estates.



thursday: The condom maker SSL International is due to issue an update later this week, and UBS expects to hear of a 6.6 per cent rise in underlying sales at the company's Durex division, up from the 5.3 per cent growth reported for the first half.

Underlying sales at Scholl Footwear are forecast to be 5.3 per cent higher, while at Scholl Footcare they are expected to be up 2.1 per cent. "We expect guidance for the year will be at least in line with expectations, with possible upside risk from Russia," the broker said. "In the winter months, however, sales contributions from Russia are expected to fall given the seasonal impact of extreme cold weather."

Also on Thursday, BlueBay Asset Management is due to issue a trading update, and following the "very strong" first quarter, when assets under management jumped by 28 per cent to $31.1bn, Numis expects a less aggressive rise over the second quarter, with the figures forecast to rise by 6 per cent to $32.9bn at the end of the December.

"We continue to forecast the investment grade funds as being the principle driver of net inflows although [we] are expecting modest positive inflows from high yield funds," the broker said.



Results/updates: NCC, St. James's Place, United Utilities, BlueBay Asset Management, SSL International, WM Morrison Supermarkets.



friday: Results/updates: Close Brothers; Invensys.

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