The Week Ahead: Primark expected to beat growth forecasts

TODAY: Britain's battered high streets will be in focus at the beginning of a busy week when Associated British Foods provides a trading update.

All eyes will be on the company's Primark chain of stores, which have been putting in a robust performance and reported healthy growth when the company updated the market in July. The fashion chain contributes 40 per cent of the company's profit, and has benefited from the strength of the value clothing niche in the recession – Matalan has also been performing strongly, as have the supermarkets' discount ranges. Analysts confidently expect the chain to beat the company's 5 per cent growth forecast.

All of this will rather overshadow the group's food operations, which include British Sugar. It should benefit from the commodity's firming price.

Whitbread is also due to update the market after creating ripples at the end of last week by closing its final salary pension scheme. Revenues slumped by 7.9 per cent in the 13 weeks ending 28 May, and were down by 9.6 per cent on an available room basis.

Results/updates: Lupus, Healthcare Locums, Kofax, Associated British Foods, Whitbread.



TOMORROW: Britain's largest plant hire group, Ashtead, issues first-quarter results which are expected to show a pre-tax profit of £8m, down from £35.9m in the first quarter of 2009. RBS says that while the US and UK recessions continue to hit group profitability, recent results from Aggreko suggest that conditions in the parts of the latter's markets where it comes across Ashtead have not worsened markedly during the quarter.

UBS says that "Ashtead should benefit from growth in rental penetration, which should be accelerated by the recession."

Results/updates: Staffline, Mattioli Woods, Stadium Group, Interior Services Group, Abcam, Advanced Medical Solutions, Ashtead Group.



WEDNESDAY: If only its finances were as sweet as its chocolate. The recession has, however, left a bitter taste in the mouths of Thorntons' investors. The downturn, together with the collapse of the Birthdays chain, which was a reliable outlet for the company's product, have analysts predicting a sharp fall in annual profits for the chocolate maker, with the consensus suggesting they could be as much as 40 per cent lower.

The operation enjoyed the benefits of an extra three weeks to sell chocolate in the run-up to a much later Easter than last year – while the troubles of rivals such as Woolworths didn't hurt. However, this is likely to have been offset by a weaker performance during the early summer's warm weather.

Results/updates: Thorntons, Sports Direct, Prezzo.



THURSDAY: Retail is back in focus on Thursday with the supermarket operator WM Morrison expected to report solid first-half sales and a good underlying performance.

Charles Stanley forecasts that sales could be up 8 per cent, although the figure has been boosted by food price inflation. Recent restructuring of the company's distribution network as well as in store layout and product line changes have helped to increase efficiency across the operation, and the measures are expected to be reflected in the interim results.

Sam Hart of Charles Stanley points to the creation of two distribution centres in the south of England, which will "take the pressure off their North of England operation". He went on to say that their results should show "industry leading sales growth" and that "significant potential exists to further expand operating profit margins". The consensus forecast is for a 21 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits of £354m, up from £295m a year earlier.

Results/updates: WM Morrison, Hilton Food, Carpetright, Genus, Home Retail.

FRIDAY: J D Wetherspoon is expected to release a robust set of results. The stock has been upgraded three times in six months by Investec Securities, highlighting increasing confidence in hospitality stocks. Investors expect to see a 7 per cent increase in pre-tax profits which have been bolstered by a debt reduction programme.

Investec analysts say that "recent updates from pub sector peers have been inconsistent and impacted by the variable summer weather". However, JDW is not as exposed to weather conditions as some of its peers.

The chain has been cashing in on the downturn, acquiring 37 new pubs, many because of freehold closures and bankruptcies.

Results/updates: JD Wetherspoon, SThree.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future