The Week Ahead: Hunt for clues on how Cairn will spend its India fortune

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Cairn Energy has already announced that it is returning 160p a share to its investors after completing the sale of its majority stake in Cairn India, but the question still remains as to what it will do with the rest of the dough.

Investors will therefore be eager for any clues in today's trading statement from the explorer on its plans. Recent reports claim Cairn has held talks with the AIM-listed group Rockhopper over the possibility of taking a stake in its Falkland Islands operations, so a reaction to this will be interesting especially since a number of analysts have expressed misgivings over a tie-up between the two.

Results/Updates: Cairn Energy and Optos.


With the soap maker coming clean last December and admitting its first-half figures would miss forecasts, investors are already braced for bad news ahead of PZ Cussons' interim results tomorrow. Since the profits warning, however, there have been further worrying developments thanks to a national strike in Nigeria, where around a third of the group's earnings come from.

Last time it updated the market PZ Cussons said it was still aiming to post an increase in its full-year profits. Yet Numis Securities' Charles Pick is worried about this, pointing out that the strike – as well as recent religious unrest in the north of the country – "could jeopardise" the company's goal.

As firms cut back on their IT spending, it is shaping up to be a tough year for the software groups. Still, analysts are relatively optimistic about Sage's defensive qualities and they will be hoping its first-quarter statement proves this confidence to be well-placed.

The company has said it expects to see its revenues grow organically by as much as 5 per cent over the full year, so it will be interesting to see whether it is on track. Bank of America Merrill Lynch certainly believes this target is achievable, and the broker also says Sage should meet its goal of keeping earnings margins flat.

Results/Updates: Carphone Warehouse, Chemring, Land Securities, Sage and PZ Cussons.


The last of the major retailers to update the market post-Christmas, WH Smith does not traditionally get as much of a festive boost as many of its peers. UBS is expecting it to announce a drop in like-for-like sales at its high street operations of 7 per cent, thanks partly to less people choosing to shop in town centres, but the broker's analysts are more positive over the travel side of its business.

They say its shops in places such as train stations and airports will see a sales fall of just 3 per cent, while they are also confident WH Smith's gross margins will have continued to increase.

Results/Updates: Britvic, BTG, Renishaw and WH Smith.


Misys issues its first-half figures on Thursday, although the City will be aware that the final six months of the year are normally stronger for the banking software firm. Its focus on the financial sector – which is not exactly booming at the moment – has created some concern, but Canaccord Genuity believes the group will still end up meeting forecasts

The broker's analysts are predicting Misys will post revenues of £201.1m and an adjusted pre-tax profit of £23.9m. They will also be looking out for the numbers from its overseas operations, which have been seeing high levels of growth.

Results/Updates: easyJet, Kazakhmys, Misys and Mitchells & Butlers.


As any dealer in the Square Mile will tell you, trading volumes have not exactly been through the roof recently. With many investors scared away by the current uncertainties, this will not have helped the London Stock Exchange ahead of its third-quarter update on Friday.

Numis' James Hamilton expects the trading statement to show the effects of a quiet three months for listing activities as well. However, it is not all doom and gloom, as the analyst adds that the Eurozone crisis will continue to have "supported treasury revenues" from its Italian clearing operations.

Results/Updates: Fuller, Smith & Turner, London Stock Exchange and Petropavlovsk.

Economics Diary

TODAY CML mortgage lending figures; Eurozone consumer confidence data.

TOMORROW Eurozone industrial new orders; Eurozone PMI; Public sector finances.

WEDNESDAY Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee minutes; BBA high street bank statistics; CBI industrial trends survey; GDP Q4 preliminary estimate; Service sector figures; US Federal Open Market Committee rate decision.

THURSDAY CBI monthly distributive trades survey; US durable goods orders; US new home sales.

FRIDAY US GDP Q4; US personal consumption data; US University of Michigan confidence data.