Analysts expect to hear of solid profits growth when the supermarket group Morrisons posts its full-year results this week. UBS is eyeing £760m in pre-tax profits, up by about 18 per cent, while Numis and Jefferies are marginally behind, forecasting a rise of £759m and £757m, respectively. "Morrisons' recent outperformance better reflects its investment attractions. These should be underpinned by a strong set of finals and the confirmation of margin expansion potential," said Jefferies, which expects the chain's full-year earnings before interest and tax to grow by 21 per cent.
Beyond the numbers, investors are advised not expect much in the way surprises, according to Numis, whose analysts point out that with Marc Bolland having stood down, and the new chief executive not yet in situ, the company is unlikely to make any groundbreaking announcements.
Today: The housebuilders' reporting round continues this morning, with Bovis Homes due to post full-year results. Numis expects the figures to be in line with market expectations, with the company likely to report the completion of 1,803 homes at an average sales price of £154,600. "We feel the market will focus on the active number of sales outlets, which are expected to decline from an average of 85 in 2009 to an average of 70 in 2010," Numis said in a preview last week.
Also today, Tullett Prebon is due to post its full-year numbers. Panmure Gordon, which upped the inter-dealer broker to "buy" last week, predicts 46.9p in earnings per share for 2009, and foreign exchange moves to add 10 per cent to annual revenues. The broker also forecasts a fall of 240 basis points in the operating margin from the first half of the year, saying: "The downward pressure ... reflects greater broker compensation assumptions." Results/Updates – Sthree, Petrofac, Intertek, Management Consulting, Stagecoach, Chaucer, Tullett Prebon and Bovis Homes.
Tomorrow: Liberty International is likely to maintain its final dividend at 16.5p when it posts full-year results, according to Panmure Gordon. The broker also expects the commercial property group's net asset value to have improved from 448p at the first-half to 533p at the end of the year. This would still represent a fall over the year as a whole, "reflecting the dilutive nature of the company's fund-raising," Panmure explained. Looking ahead, the broker struck a hopeful note on the company's prospects, adding: "While the portfolio is currently significantly weighted towards retail and perhaps lacks the gearing into the reviving London office market that Land Securities and British Land offer, we should nonetheless see an improvement in group rental and valuations during 2010."
Also tomorrow, the engineering group Weir is due to issue annual numbers, with Altium forecasting a year-end net debt of £154m. The broker says the key to Weir is the extent to which earnings before interest and tax decline, if at all, in 2010. It said: "The trend of order intakes in 2009 was negative and this suggests some decline in 2010. However, the rate of decline reduced in the fourth quarter of 2009 and this improving trend should return the group to growth at some stage this year."
Results/Updates – Abcam, Ashtead, Hill & Smith, Interior Services, Lookers, John Menzies, Rok, Weir, Antofagasta, Inmarsat, International Power, Prudential and Liberty International.
Wednesday: The car dealer Inchcape is due to post full-year numbers, with UBS forecasting £5.6bn in revenues, down nearly 11 per cent on the year, and 2.4p in earnings per share, down more than 50 per cent year-on-year. "We do no expect a dividend to be reintroduced yet, with the outlook for 2010 remaining highly uncertain in light of reduced state assistance schemes and weak consumer confidence," UBS said. "We believe there was a significant pull forward of UK sales in 2009 as a result of scrappage, and this is likely to exacerbate weakness in 2010."
Results/Updates – Cape, Chime Communications, Costain, Inchcape, Tullow Oil, Interserve, Oxford Biomedica and Standard Life.
Thursday: Results/Updates – Dignity, JD Wetherspoon, Johnston Press, WM Morrison Supermarkets, Cineworld, Computacenter, Old Mutual and Home Retail Group.
Friday: Results/Updates – Aga Rangemaster.