The Week Ahead: Carpetright's suffering is likely to continue in 2012


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The Independent Online

It is fair to say that 2011 has been a year to forget for Carpetright. One of the retailers worst hit by the pressures on the high street, a string of profits warnings has seen the share price of Britain's biggest floor coverings retailer almost halve since January. Judging by comments in the City, it doesn't exactly look as if things are going to get much better when Carpetright announces its interim results tomorrow. Analysts at Singer Capital Markets expect it to "report its worst first-half figures as a listed company", forecasting a pre-tax profit for the period of £1.2m – almost a tenth of what it managed the previous year. The UK will be the culprit, they say, with a 3 per cent drop in like-for-like sales alongside a steep fall in margins after efforts to revive the business.

James Dilks-Hopper at Numis Securities is hardly optimistic about what lies ahead for Carpetright. He worries that new initiatives – including the introduction of a new range of beds – "will not deliver the material improvements management expect" over the second-half of the year, while adding that the "almost ceaseless promotional activity could start to lose impact".

There is also the issue of the better durability of carpets made out of longer-lasting polypropylene fibre, with Mr Dilks-Hopper warning that this will reduce "the overall market size and [thwart] Carpetright's return to peak profitability levels".


Results and updates: None expected.


Its interim figures back in October came in ahead of the Square Mile's forecasts, so Whitbread will be hoping it can repeat the feat with its trading update tomorrow. However, Panmure Gordon's James Cooke warns that the multi-tasking leisure giant is likely to have seen "volatile" sales thanks to the unseasonably warm weather, and adds that a number of new Premier Inn and Costa Coffee openings – plus recent spending on advertising and refurbishments– means that "profit growth in the period will be limited".

Tomorrow also sees the spread-betting company IG Group release its half-year trading statement barely a fortnight since its last update. It pleased investors then by saying it was still enjoying a high level of client activity, and that it expected its revenues for the period to be above £193m. Since then, the company's share price has risen by more than 8 per cent, so it will be hoping this more detailed update can provide a further boost.

The computer chip maker Imagination Technologies will also unveil interim results tomorrow. Liberum Capital's Eoin Lambe believes the "risks are firmly to the downside", saying the fact that Imagination has "limited Android exposure, the fastest-growing segment of the smartphone market, [makes] a royalty beat unlikely". He is expecting sales for the period of £56.9m, resulting in a pre-tax profit of £12.8m.

Results and updates: Carpetright, Domino Printing Sciences, Go-Ahead, IG-Group, Imagination and Whitbread.


Three weeks after it was initially meant to release its preliminary figures, Thomas Cook finally wil unveil its delayed results on Wednesday in what is the troubled tour operator's last week on the FTSE 250 before it becomes a small-cap stock.

The figures are unlikely to be particularly cheery considering its recent admission that bookings fell 30 per cent in the wake of its cash crisis, although it predicts that full-year operating profit should still meet expectations despite the funding issues. Analysts, however, will be keen to hear more about the company's restructuring plan.

With less than a fortnight until Christmas, any signs of how trading has been on the high street will be seized upon when the fashion retailer SuperGroup issues its half-year results. Andrew Wade at Numis Securities wants to hear whether the firm's profits hit from its stock issues earlier in the year have moved from the £6m to £9m range previously announced.

Results and updates: Betfair, Supergroup and Thomas Cook.


Wood Group announces a pre-close trading statement on Thursday, although UBS predicts that the energy services group will reveal few changes to trading trends since its last update in October. The broker expects "activity levels in the engineering business to remain strong".

Results and updates: International Personal Finance, Serco, Sports Direct and Wood Group.


Results and updates: None expected.

Economics Diary

TODAY US federal budget balance.

TOMORROW Consumer price index; RICS house price balance; retail price index; US Federal Open Market Committee statement; US business inventories; US retail sales.

WEDNESDAY Average earnings index; claimant count change; US crude oil inventories; US import prices.

THURSDAY Consumer inflation expectations; retail sales; US current account statistics; US Empire State manufacturing index; US industrial production; US Philly Fed manufacturing index; US producer price indices; US unemployment claims.

FRIDAY US consumer price index