Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

The Week Ahead: Rebellious shareholders to question HSBC chiefs




The shareholder meeting of the banking giant HSBC should be a lively affair. The investor lobby group Pirc is calling on shareholders to vote against the re-election of the chairman, Douglas Flint, on the grounds that as the former chief executive of the bank he can hardly be deemed independent. There are also bound to be questions over chief executive Stuart Gulliver's £8m pay package.

The low-cost airline Ryanair upped its guidance for full-year profits from €440m (£355m) to €480m in January, and it might even beat that slightly. Of more interest will be chief executive Michael O'Leary's comments on the chances of a special dividend this year.

Results: BTG; British Land; Cranswick; Cable & Wireless Worldwide; E2V Technologies; Mitie; Ryanair.


Is the smooth -talking Dutchman Marc Bolland about to impress for more than the cut of his fine suits? On Tuesday he unveils full-year results at Marks & Spencer, a closely watched annual event. Like other retailers it has suffered from depressed consumer conditions, and the weather hasn't helped much either.

He has won credit in retail land for overhauling stores to make them more easily "shoppable", and most agree that M&S's food offering has improved. Some say the clothes are still dull, though. Panmure Gordon says it prefers Next and Asos, noting that M&S's fourth-quarter trading update was a clear disappointment. It reckons that full-year profits will come in at £689.4m, a bit below the City consensus, and says the shares are no better than a hold at 347p.

Results: Bloomsbury; Big Yellow; Homeserve; Marks & Spencer; KCom; UK Mail; Vodafone; Yell.


Fresh from notching up record sales of £1bn in just six months, the luxury fashion house Burberry is expected to deliver more good news from investors with a healthy rise in annual profits to £367m-£377m. Angela Ahrendts' business – fast joining Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton as a global designer-label superpower – has enjoyed the biggest success in British, French and Chinese markets, defying wider global turmoil. The shareholders have down well too: the FTSE 100 may be sinking fast, but Burberry's shares are up 20 per cent since Christmas.

Meanwhile the property firm Shaftesbury – owner of swaths of Chinatown and London's Theatreland – should also sparkle with interim results. Visitors are still flocking to the West End despite the downturn, prompting heavy demand from tenants for its shop and restaurants. The Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games are also putting the capital in the shop window, although Shaftesbury is braced for short-term disruption this summer as public transport creaks under the influx of tourists.

Results: Burberry; FirstGroup; Great Portland Estates; Telecom Plus.


Daily Mail & General Trust's half-year results should give an indication about whether advertising is getting a lift from the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. DMGT is set to be dropped from the FTSE 250 because it has a high proportion of non-voting shares, but Numis says fundamentals are strong, noting that "earnings momentum feels like it has at last reached a positive inflection".

Investors in Cable & Wireless Communications will be hoping to see improvement in the full-year results for the telecoms specialist for emerging markets including Panama, the Bahamas and gambling-mad Macau. CWC warned in February that profits in some regions would come in at the low end of expectations, but it is making the business leaner, and recently sold out of Fiji.

Results: Asos; Booker; Cable & Wireless Communications; Dairy Crest; Electrocomponents; Mothercare; Qintiq; SabMiller; United Utilities; Young & Co's.


Strong results from rivals lately should set the wind fair for full-year results from the property developer Helical Bar and investors will also be seeking an update on its plans to build new shops, offices and 200 flats near St Barts hospital in the City of London. Its chief executive, Michael Slade, sold 200,000 shares at 193p a share on 30 March, which could give an indication of how he sees the market. Doubtless he will argue otherwise. Chairman Giles Weaver also sold a bunch – 36,000 – at 188p a share. Lucky them, the shares have fallen to 177p since.

Results: Helical Bar.

Economics Diary

TODAY: Rightmove house prices for May.

TUESDAY: Public Sector Net Borrowing figures for April. CPI and RPI inflation indexes for April. OECD economic outlook.

WEDNESDAY: Minutes from Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee meeting in May. Plus Bank agents' summary of business conditions. European Union leaders' summit in Brussels. US homes new sales figures for April.

THURSDAY: Office for National Statistics second estimate of GDP in Q1 2012. ONS index of services for March. BBA mortgage approvals for April. Eurozone manufacturing, services and composite PMI flash estimates for May.