The Week Ahead: Cheaper land set to boost housebuilders' margins



The recent rush of results from the housebuilders comes to an end this week with full-year trading updates from Bovis Homes today and Taylor Wimpey tomorrow. Despite prospective buyers still having a tough time of it, the reporting season has largely been a positive one, with margins helped by building on cheaper land.

Margins is the area in which Numis Securities' Chris Millington believes Bovis could end up beating the market's expectations, although he says thereis little chance of other surprisesemerging.

Results/Updates: Bovis Homes and Exillon Energy.


Recent Christmas figures from the global luxury sector have been rather mixed, and Royal Bank of Scotland believes Burberry will reveal on Tuesday a slowdown in its like-for-like retail sales growth over the third quarter to 13 per cent, down from 15.5 per cent during the previous six months.

However, the broker's analysts point out that the upmarket retailer is facing tougher comparatives for the period. They also add that there is a chance the numbers could beat expectations, saying "anecdotal data support our view that the travelling luxury consumer continues to drive sales in key markets".

Greene King's performance has impressed recently, and investors should once again be merry after the pub operator's trading update tomorrow. The group's managed division saw its like-for-like revenues rise 4 per cent during the first 30 weeks of the year and Shore Capital believes this trend will have continued over the following seven weeks, with the broker also optimistic over the performance of its tenanted properties and volumes of its own brewed beers.

Results/Updates: Burberry, DixonsRetail, Experian, Greene King, IG Group, Intermediate Capital, Rio Tinto and Taylor Wimpey.


Man Group endured a pretty sorry 2011 – it was the fourth worst blue-chip performer – and 2012 is heading the same way, with the world's largest listed hedge already having dropped roughly 14 per cent since the New Year.

Those investors still left will be desperately hoping its nine-month trading statement on Wednesday does not prompt another lurch down, although the signs aren't good. A number of brokers, including JP Morgan Cazenove and Credit Suisse, have cut their estimates recently, while RBC's Peter Lenardos expects Man to reveal $2.3bn of outflows over the last three months of 2011.

Results/Updates: African Barrick Gold, BHP Billiton, Diploma, Hochschild Mining, JD Wetherspoon, Man Group and Tullow Oil.


The rush of post-Christmas releases from the retail sector is starting to slow down, but there are still a few high-street names left to update the market. Kesa Electricals is one of them, with its third-quarter figures out on Thursday, and it is thought that the performance of its Comet chain is unlikely to cause any pangs of regret over its agreement to sell the business to OpCapita for £2.

UBS believes Comet's like-for-like sales will have dropped 13 per cent, while forecasting just a 3 per cent fall for Kesa's pan-European chain Darty. However, the broker also warns the company's Italian operations should be a cause for worry, saying it is "hard to see how this business can achieve profitability in its current form."

Results/Updates: Aberdeen Asset Management, ASOS, Associated British Foods, Jupiter Fund Management, Kesa Electricals, Premier Oil, SAB Miller, St James's Place and William Hill.


The week is brought to an end by Close Brothers, with the independent City bank releasing its pre-close statement. Back in November the group said that times have been tough for its Securities operations, although its banking unit was doing rather better.

This time, Numis' James Hamilton believes Close's Winterfloods market-making business will have seen a "significant decline" in revenues over the first half of the year, while on the banking side he predicts that the group's loan book will have grown 7 per cent compared to the previous six months.

Results/Updates: Close Brothers.

TODAY Rightmove house price index; US markets closed for Martin Luther King Day.

TOMORROW Consumer price index; Eurozone consumer price index; Retail price index; US Empire State manufacturing survey.

WEDNESDAY Labour market report; Unemployment statistics;US industrial production;US producer price index.

THURSDAY European CentralBank monthly report; US consumer price index; US housing starts;US unemployment figures; US Philadelphia Fed survey.

FRIDAY Bank of England lending trends report; Retail sales; US existing home sales.

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