The Week Ahead: Evolution rather than revolution at Morrisons
Monday 06 September 2010
Morrison's, the grocer, will provide the highlight of the reporting week when new chief executive Dalton Philips makes his first public City appearance following his appointment to replace Marc Bolland.
Investors have been waiting expectantly to hear Mr Philips' vision for Britain's No 4 grocer which has managed to outpace rivals in recent times, thanks to the revival brought about by Mr Bolland before his defection to M&S. Mr Dalton is a relative unknown in the UK having previous worked at Canadian retailer Loblaw, and Credit Suisse has said it has detected a "wait and see" approach among investors ahead of Thursday's interims.
However, the broker believes the caution will prove unjustified. "We do not expect Philips to materially change the current Plan. We would expect strategy evolution rather than revolution," it said.
Credit Suisse expects underlying pre-tax profits of £415m but said there could be earnings upgrades if the group delivers on strategy.
The news is expected to be less good for Home Retail Group, which owns Argos and Homebase and is likely to lose its place in the FTSE 100 this week at the scheduled quarterly review. It has yo-yoed between the top index and the second tier FTSE 250 and investors will be hoping for something slightly more positive after a dismal first quarter.
The other big retail story of the week will be tomorrow's interims from the online grocer Ocado, the first results following its controversial flotation. The loss-making company has seen its shares tumbling since it joined the market.
Kofax, the computer hardware and software business will release its final results today after telling investors in an earlier trading statement that it expects to exceed expectations. House broker Canaccord expects the company to give an upbeat message about future prospects and said of its software division: "Kofax spoke of an increasingly confident outlook for the software business... Our forecast full- year 2011 and full-year 2012 margins of 13.2 per cent and 13.6 per cent seem well underpinned. We expect the company to reiterate its message of increasing confidence in the software business."
Goals Soccer Centres is expected to show some benefits from the World Cup, although broker KBC Peel Hunt still worries that results will be towards the lower end of expectations. "There was increasing interest in children's birthday parties and corporate events in advance of the World Cup, although benefit of that interest is expected to fall in H2. Guidance was for results for the full year within expectations... and we dropped our forecast by 2 per cent."
Results/Updates: Craneware, Murgitroyd Group, WFCA, Brady, Hellenic Carriers, Hydrogen Group
Abcam, Dechra Pharmaceuticals, Genus, Ocado, Ashtead Group, Greene King, Whitbread
Barratt Developments, one of the most heavily shorted stocks on the market recently, will be the focus of attention following the latest grim set of statistics from the housing market. July's update, however, suggested things were going better than expected and UBS said Barratt had been making "good progress on all fronts" ahead of its finals. "Given continued margin progression, no land provisions, materially lower debt and good land buying (both in volume and GM), we see the 50 per cent discount to Net Asset Value as illogical," the broker added. The consensus forecast is for the group to make a small pre-tax loss but an operating profit of £85m with net debt at £376m.
Chocolate-maker Thorntons will also report finals and is expected to unveil a profit before exceptionals of between £6m and £6.4m. Said Investec: "The company has seen a rebound in commercial sales following a difficult early Q3 and is looking to improve own-store performance by strengthening the management team and implementing a staff restructuring programme. We are maintaining our forecasts... and remain holders of the stock."
Results/Updates: CPL Resources, Interior Services, Advanced Medical Solutions, Alliance Pharma, Cape, Lupus Capital, Prezzo.
Harriet Green, Premier Farnell's yoga enthusiast chief executive, presents interims with the analysts' consensus forecasting a sharp rise in profits to £43.4m from £23.7m in the first half of 2009. Having thrived during her first 1,000 days in the job, Ms Green will be expected to give some indication of what she expects for the next 1,000. Seymour Pierce said: "Although the potential for an earnings upgrade is strong, we do recognise that there are some risks to the Premier Farnell story. Revenue visibility is extremely limited with over 90 per cent of sales for next-day delivery. However, Premier's track record during the downturn has been impressive."
Results/Updates: Redrow, Morrson (Wm), Home Retail Group, HMV, IG Group.
JD Wetherspoon rounds off the week and is expect to report profits of between £69m and £73m before tax and exceptional items compared with just over £66m the previous year. Pub groups in general have been finding life tough recently and investors will look closely at the company's thoughts on the outlook for the sector and the wider economy.
Today: New car registrations August
Tuesday: BRC retail sales monitor
Wednesday: UK industrial production
Thursday: UK trade in goods and services July; MPC announcement
Friday: UK producer prices August
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