The Week Ahead: Hays profits under pressure despite solid year

Hays, the FTSE 250-listed recruitment group, is due to publish full-year results tomorrow. Following a positive fourth-quarter update last month, Panmure Gordon is anticipating evidence of a "solid" performance in the year to June, forecasting adjusted pre-tax profits of £237.9m. The broker has also pencilled in a full-year dividend of 5.9p, up from the 5p per share paid last year.

Beyond the numbers, the focus will be on the outlook for the year ahead as the business deals with a slowing economy. "The company has already indicated that the UK business has been coming under increasing pressure, with the focus on profit protection (no headcount growth) rather than growth," Panmure said. "Comparatives from last year are still relatively strong and, with the current climate perhaps more akin to the early 1990s rather than the slowdown of 2001-2003, this could be a source of further downside risk."

As a result, for 2009, the broker forecasts adjusted pre-tax profits of £200.5m, at the lower end of the current consensus range of £258m to £192m.

"We believe we will see consensus move towards the bottom end of the range, which could create some pressure on the share price," the broker added.



Today: The software group ANT is due to publish interim results and, given the commentary in the company's AGM statement in May, and the positive newsflow since, KBC Peel Hunt expects an in-line performance in the period to June.

"The theme at the [2007 results in February] was of cost control with second-half improvement as [the] units shipped increased 40 per cent year-on-year and royalty rates improve with the product mix, while licence revenue declines, as expected, in favour of ongoing royalty development," the broker said in a recent preview note, adding: "Cash at 31 December was £6.2m, and we expect £4.7m for the first half of 2008, falling to £4.4m, or 18p per share [for the full year]."

KBC also weighed in on Goals, the five-a-side football centre provider which is due to publish interims today. The broker expects a 19 per cent hike in pre-tax profits, to £3.7m, and a 17 per cent increase in earnings per share, to 5.8p.

"Following the first three additions in March, all three of the remaining openings, at Dudley, Tolworth and Northampton, are already on site and should open progressively over the second half, to meet the target of six additions for 2008," KBC said, adding that another six additional sites in 2009 should help earnings to grow by another 30 per cent.

Results/updates: Goals, ANT.



Tomorrow: Results/updates: Ashtead, Hays.



Wednesday: Analysts expect a subdued announcement from Punch Taverns, the pubs group which is due to publish a trading update midweek. Management is expected to reconfirm that it remains confident of meeting the market's lowered full-year profit forecasts. But as Morgan Stanley pointed out in a recent preview note, against the backdrop of a protracted consumer slowdown and a debt-laden balance sheet, "it is hard to see the stock outperforming".

The broker anticipates some improvement in life-for-like sales this quarter, but margins are expected to come under pressure from rising food and energy costs, foretelling what is likely to be a challenging year ahead.

Also on Wednesday, the online payment specialist Neteller is due to publish interim results, and Evolution Securities forecasts $4.1m in first-half earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. Pre-tax profits are expected to come in at $3.1m, with 1.9 cents in earnings per share.

"Neteller will grow on the back of online merchants, mainly online gaming, and in Europe for the foreseeable future," the broker said, adding: "We see this as an attractive growth driver and see Neteller's product as still work in progress. As it increased the range of product on offer it should be able to deliver its target of increasing active users."

Results/updates: DS Smith, Signet, WS Atkins, Neteller and Punch Taverns.



Thursday: Whitbread, the FTSE 100-listed hospitality group, is due to publish a trading update near the end of this week and, according to Dresdner Kleinwort, while there could well be some deceleration in like-for-like's for the last 11 weeks, any impact is expected to be mitigated by a strong performance at Premier Inn in London. The broker said: "The pace of growth [is] likely to slow in coming quarters though and we have reduced estimates to better reflect this and see few immediate catalysts while UK consumer uncertainty remains."

Also on Thursday, SQS, the software testing and quality management services provider, is due to publish interim results. Evolution anticipates €63.3m in revenues, with €5.6m in earnings before interest and tax, reflecting assumptions of robust top-line growth in the company's core geographies, stable margins and a relatively immaterial contribution from the recent acquisition of Sweden's Validate.

"Our assumptions of growth and stable margins should prove conservative given the group's positive AGM statement and recent update highlighting outsourcing contract wins," the broker said, reiterating its "buy" rating on SQS.

Results/updates: McBride, SQS and Whitbread.



Friday: Results/updates: Go-Ahead, HMV and JD Wetherspoon.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Financial Analyst - Forecasting - Yorkshire

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...

Business Architect - Bristol - £500 per day

£500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup