The Week Ahead: Pollster YouGov hopes to win backing of the City

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The Independent Online


Pollster YouGov will hope it gets a vote of confidence from the City after the release of its interim results today. Last February, the AIM-listed group announced its trading was on course to meet forecasts, saying it was seeing organic revenue growth in the double digits.

Paul Richards, from the firm's house broker Numis Securities, is expecting a pre-tax profit of £1.6m although he notes that, thanks to "increased investment in new products and markets, profits will be weighted towards the second half" of the year.

Another in focus tomorrow will be Andor Technology, with the specialist digital camera group unveiling a trading update. Back at the time of its AGM in February, chairman Colin Walsh announced that the first third of its financial year had met expectations and that it had enjoyed strong revenue growth from the Asia-Pacific region.

The month before, AIM-listed Andor released updated versions of both its iXon and Neo cameras, so any news on demand for these will be eagerly examined by investors.

Results/Updates: Andor Technology, InternetQ, KCOM Group and YouGov.


AIM-listed driller Gulfsands Petrol-eum releases its preliminary results on Tuesday amid continuing uncertainty over its Syrian operations. Back in February, the oil firm said it was stopping its exploration in the country following the unrest, having already halted its involvement in production there last December.

Results/Updates: Gulfsands Petrol-eum, Huntsworth and Vernalis.


Investors in Shanks will not have enjoyed watching the waste group's share price being flushed down the toilet recently, with the stock dropping nearly a quarter since last July. Noting its underperformance compared to the rest of the UK market, Jefferies International believes Wednesday's pre-close statement could "provide a catalyst to reignite ... interest", pointing out the firm has "one of the lowest valuations in the European waste sector".

The update comes ahead of its final results next month, and the broker's analysts are expecting a full-year pre-tax profit of £37.8m. Meanwhile, any comments from chief executive Peter Dilnot will also be closely watched, given he only took up the position at the start of February.

Results/Updates: Burford Capital, International Airlines Group, Prezzo and Shanks.


Halfords announces its pre-close update on Thursday, and Oriel Securities warns it does not believe the bike retailer's insight into recent trading will "look pretty". Over the third quarter, the group saw like-for-like sales drop 4.8 per cent, and although the broker's scribes feel there will have been an improvement during the final three months of the year, they are still predicting a fall of 3.2 per cent.

Deutsche Bank's Charlie Muir-Sands is more positive, expecting a 1 per cent drop. This, he says, will be helped by a 2 per cent rise from its car maintenance operations. The analyst had previously predicted a growth of 6 per cent but adjusted his forecasts thanks to the relatively mild weather seen during the start of 2012.

Also updating the market is Booker, with the cash and carry wholesaler releasing its trading statement for the fourth quarter. The previous three months saw its like-for-like sales – minus tobacco – jump 5.8 per cent, and UBS's Mike Tattersall is expecting "another solid underlying trading performance".

The analyst believes there is "some scope for forecasts to move higher", pointing out that such "upgrades have been a notable and consistent feature of the... investment case in recent years". However, he warns that as a result there is "often a 'travelling and arriving' element to the Booker share-price reaction around results with strong performance in the run-up to announcements in anticipation of upgrades".

Results/Updates: Booker, easyJet, Halfords, Panmure Gordon, Robert Walters and Victrex.


Results/Updates: UK markets closed for Good Friday.

Economics Diary

TODAY Eurozone unemployment rate; Manufacturing PMI; US ISM manufacturing PMI.

TOMORROW Construction PMI; US factory orders; US Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes.

WEDNESDAY British Retail Consortium shop price index; European Central Bank meeting and press conference; Eurozone retail sales; Services PMI.

THURSDAY Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee interest rate announcement; Industrial production; Manufacturing production; NEISR GDP Estimate.

FRIDAY UK markets closed for Good Friday; US non-farm payroll figures.