The Week Ahead: More banks to reveal damage done by crunch

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The Independent Online

It is the turn of Britain's international banks to unveil the damage done by the credit crunch in the first half of the year.

After a series of miserable numbers from domestic players last week, HSBC will kick off the second week of the reporting season today. Analysts expect Europe's biggest bank to report pre-tax profits down 25 per cent from a record £7.1bn a year ago as it takes further charges at its US sub-prime business.

Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, the banks most exposed to the debt markets, report on Thursday and Friday. Barclays' profit is forecast to fall by a third, while RBS is likely to chalk up Britain's biggest half-year banking loss of at least £1bn, compared with £6bn profit a year earlier.

Standard Chartered, with little exposure to the UK or the US, is expected to increase profits by about 30 per cent when it reports tomorrow.

TODAY: Trading system fans should be pleased with the UK group Fidessa's first-half results. Evolution Securities said the interims will be "excellent" after a solid first-quarter statement, with £82m revenues and a 35 per cent growth rate. The group has benefited from recent legislation such as the notorious Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, or Mifid, and Regulation NMS, as well as the trading platforms set to emerge in Europe this year. Analysts believe that the economic slowdown might begin to hit in the second half of next year.

The testing and inspection specialist Intertek is also reporting today, with organic growth expected across most of its divisions, especially in consumer testing. There has been talk over the group's interest in the FTSE 250 group Bodycote's testing business, which is for sale, with maybe some indication this week.

Results: Full year: Eckoh; Syndicate Asset Management. Half year: Fidessa, HSBC, Intertek; New Britain Palm Oil; Senior; Ultra Electronics.

Tomorrow: Tullett Prebon said last week that it was attempting to merge with rival GFI Group to create the biggest interdealer broker by headcount. This is the third time the companies have tried to merge, and analysts will be looking forward to quizzing management on how talks are proceeding this time.

The power company Drax, whose share price has looked good of late because of the rises in the oil price in the past three months, is also reporting this week.

The gambling company Sportech is waiting to see if the British public will take to the idea of the new football pools aimed at a younger generation. The company is to flesh out these plans. Sportech bought Vernons last December, which brought its share of the UK pools market to 99 per cent.

Results: Half year: Drax Group; GKN; Meggitt; Rotork; Spirent Communications; Sportech; Tullett Prebon; Standard Chartered. Quarterly: Allied Healthcare International; Endeavour International Group; Prodesse.

Wednesday: Investors were switching out of the miners last week as commodity prices edged down, although Xstrata was in focus as rumours emerged over a possible approach for Lonmin. The group posts its half-years on Wednesday, but the analysts' consensus expects a 12 per cent drop in net profit. Results: Full year: KSK Power Ventures. Half year: Access Intelligence; ARC International; Aricom; GlobeOp Financial Services; Morgan Crucible; Old Mutual; Spring Group, Standard Life; Torchmark Corporation; Xstrata.

Thursday: It is decision time again for the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee over whether to change the UK's interest rates. Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist for Global Insight, believes the MPC will keep interest rates at 5 per cent, "but it is not a nailed-on certainty". In July there was a three-way split in the voting, and this time the committee will have new inflation and growth forecasts in the quarterly inflation report.

Ladbrokes is reporting, and analysts at Evos believe it's time for investors to cash in their chips with earnings before interest and tax down slightly. The house said: "We reiterate our 'sell' recommendation ahead of the interims and suggest that investors sell into any market rally. There is a lack of any positive catalysts to get excited about."

The hotels group Millennium & Copthorne presents its first interims since Richard Hartman was appointed chief executive in April. Mr Hartman has a good reputation in the City, although he is likely to present softer second-quarter results, especially in the wake of cautious comments from Marriott recently. Weakness could well be offset by growth in its operations in Asia.

Orthopedics have had a pretty good run of late, despite wider economic conditions, as a few trading updates have revealed. On Thursday it is the turn of Smith & Nephew, and the market is waiting for more information on the problems surrounding its the launch of its wound treatment business and problems at Plus Orthopaedics.

Results: Full year: Software Radio Technology. Half year: 4impring Group; Barclays; ClearSpeed Technology; Fibreweb; Friends Provident; Genetix Group; Hammerson; International Power; Ladbrokes; London Capital Group; Millennium & Copthorne; RSA Insurance Smith & Nephew. Quarterly: QuestAir Technologies.

Friday: Half year: Royal Bank of Scotland. Quarterly: Cryptologic.

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