The Week Ahead: Majestic to reveal if the fizz has gone flat

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The Independent Online


At a time when the recession is hitting most of the high street, a strong showing from Majestic Wine today should underline how Britons have fallen back on the age-old solace of booze. We haven't heard from the firm since Christmas, when a surge in champagne sales put the fizz into trading, but the broker Investec is pencilling in an 11 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £22.5m for the year to 31 March. The company also launched its first nationwide advertising campaign, the basic pitch of which was "don't be put off shopping here if you don't know anything about wine". Results should show how many took up Majestic's invitation to "come and explore".

Results/updates: Bank of Ireland; City of London Investment; F&C Global Smaller Companies; IFG; Serabi; Majestic Wine


Just how much trouble is in store for Home Retail Group? Investors will learn more on Tuesday when the Argos to Homebase group unveils its first-quarter figures. A note from JPM Cazenove sets the scene: "It's been a difficult three months. Expectations are low generally and have worsened in the recent poor weather."

The ebullient chief executive, Terry Duddy, remains upbeat in the face of a high-street slump and suggestions that Argos is behind the times. Caz thinks investors want to see an accelerated store closure programme.

Expect another fall in like-for-like sales. There could be a boost to sales from the Olympics but Christmas remains the key period for HRG. Say the Caz number crunchers: "We continue to believe the exit of capacity from the high street combined with less pressure from the grocers will stand Argos in good stead this Christmas."

Results/updates: Chemring, Imagination Technologies, Home Retail, Trifast, Daisy, Umeco, Whitbread, Weir


The impact of Comet on the full-year results of Kesa Electricals, which operates the Darty stores in France, Spain, Turkey and Italy, is likely to be the main area of focus for the City. Stripping out exceptional items, Kesa is expected to post underlying profits down by 38 per cent to €58m for the year to 30 April. However, the group paid the investment firm OpCapita a dowry of €50m to take struggling Comet off its hands for a nominal £2 in February and this payment, in addition to trading losses at the UK retailer and other disposal costs, will see Kesa post a pre-tax loss.

Results/Updates: African Eagle Resources, Castings, Kesa Electricals and Sceptre Leisure


At its recent fourth-quarter update Dixons Retail pleased the market with news that pre-tax profits for the year would come in at the top end of expectations. It returned to sales growth of 5 per cent in the final quarter, meaning sales for the full year are down 3 per cent. Most analysts moved their forecasts up and there is now a range from £65m to £70m against £69.2m last year. Self-help has seen the UK operations improve significantly, and the focus may now shift to underperforming electrical retail chains in southern Europe and the PIXmania website.

Results/Updates: Ashtead; Dixons, Micro Focus; Norcros; Corin; Heritage Oil; International Public Partnerships; Tawa; Telit; Coal of Africa


The film studios group Pinewood Shepperton holds its annual meeting when it will seek formal approval for its delisting from the London Stock Exchange and move to AIM. The major shareholders, Peel Holdings and Warren James Holdings, have given an irrevocable undertaking to the move. A £5m placing is also planned to fund expansion of the studios and "selective international growth".

It comes after Pinewood Shepperton won approval a fortnight ago to manage a £25m film fund for the Isle of Man.

Results/Updates: Pinewood Shepperton

Economics Diary

Monday Rightmove house prices. Nationwide Consumer Confidence index reading for May. G20 leaders' conference in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Tuesday Office for National Statistics produces CPI and RPI inflation figures for May. Also ONS house price index. Spanish Treasury bill sale.

Wednesday Minutes of June Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting released. ONS unemployment figures for May. Meeting of Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee rates – monetary stimulus decision.

Thursday ONS retail sales figures for May. CBI Trends total orders for May. Spanish bond auction. Eurozone flash PMIs for June. Plus German Ifo and ZEW surveys. Results of audit of Spanish banking system by consultants Roland Berger and Oliver Wyman also expected by the end of the week.