The Week Ahead: Insurance giants set toreveal mixed fortunes

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In what is a quiet start to the week, Ark Therapeutics is one of the few companies to update the market, with the healthcare firm unveiling its preliminary results. The group, which is listed on the fledgling index, is expected to reveal revenues for 2011 of £8m, while its net cash position will also be in focus, given it announced in November that it expected this to have risen from the £5.4m it had at the half-year stage.

Results/Updates: Ark Therapeutics and Brady.


The recent run of results from the insurers continues on Tuesday when Prudential and Standard Life release their figures for 2011. JP Morgan's Ashik Musaddi believes the latter will have enjoyed a "modest" last three months of the year, both in terms of sales and assets under management growth. Overall, the analyst is forecasting a full-year operating profit of £479m – which would be a 13 per cent rise – and predicts that its net profit will have dropped 19 per cent to £349m after having received a £59m credit in 2010 thanks to a change in pension scheme liabilities.

Meanwhile, Prudential – which was making noises last month about possibly upping sticks and moving its headquarters away from the UK – is expected by Nomura to reveal a 13 per cent year-on-year fall in its fourth-quarter net book value. Although the broker's analysts believe it will have continued to see strong growth in Asia, they warn that the group will have been hit by the effects of a drop in sales and margins in the US.

Also announcing figures is Antofagasta, with the miner's full-year results set to be particularly interesting considering last month's surprise resignation of boss Marcelo Awad. However, at the same time as revealing the departure of Mr Awad, who is being temporarily replaced by the chairman, Jean-Paul Luksic, the digger moved to quell investors' fears by saying it was on track to meet forecasts.

Results/Updates: Antofagasta, Close Brothers, Computacenter, Futura Medical, G4S, IG Group, Inchcape, Prudential and Standard Life.


Marston's announces a first-half update on Wednesday, and Douglas Jack of Numis Securities, one of the pubs group's joint brokers, believes the market will be able to toast a positive trading performance from its tenanted and leased sites as well as its managed division. Mr Jack is expecting the firm to see like-for-like sales rise 1.5 per cent over the full year, but he does point out that he is more bullish than most in the City.

Results/Updates: CVS Group, Ferrexpo, French Connection, Greggs, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Legal & General, Marston's, Mecom, SIG, Smiths Group, SOCO International, Tullow Oil and Yule Catto.


It is the turn of Home Retail to update the market on Thursday, although Panmure Gordon's Philip Dorgan notes that the fact that the retailer is only revealing figures for the first eight weeks of 2012 ahead of its full-year results in May means the numbers will be "both more difficult to predict and less meaningful".

He adds that, with last year's VAT rise now annualised, both the group's Argos and Homebase chains should see an improvement from the 8.8 per cent and 2.6 per cent decline in like-for-like sales they suffered respectively over the previous 18 weeks.

Legal & General is expected to reveal by far the highest dividend raise in the sector, with Nomura predicting that the insurer will unveil a 26 per cent increase. The broker believes the main focus will the group's cash generation, forecasting an 8 per cent rise in its net cash to £822m, which would be "strong results in a difficult environment".

Results/Updates: Aegis, F&C Asset Management, Home Retail, Investec, Playtech, Premier Farnell, Savills, Spirit Pub Company, Trinity Mirror and TT Electronics.


The week is brought to an end with EMIS announcing its annual results, and the healthcare group is expected to announce revenues of £73.1m. When the AIM-listed firm updated the market in January it said that more than 200 GP practices had started using its EMIS Web software over the second half of 2011, so the latest on its roll-out plans will be closely watched.Results/Updates: EMIS.

Economics Diary

TODAY Current account; US Treasury budget statement.

TOMORROW RICS housing market survey; Trade balance; US business inventories; US FOMC interest rate decision; US retail sales.

WEDNESDAY Claimant count change; Eurozone CPI; Eurozone industrial production; Unemployment rate; US current account; US import prices; US MBA mortgage applications.

THURSDAY European Central Bank monthly bulletin; US PPI;US unemployment claims.

FRIDAY CBI industrial order expectations; Eurozone flash manufacturing PMI; Eurozone flash services PMI; US CPI; US industrial production.