The Week Ahead: Sunny outlook from major tour operators

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The Independent Online

The tour operators are in focus this week, with Thomas Cook reporting full-year numbers this morning, and TUI Travel following suit tomorrow.

Thomas Cook has already said that it is confident of meeting the board's expectations. In a pre-close update at the end of September, it added that winter trading had improved since its previous update, with the chief executive, Manny Fontenla-Novoa, saying that he was encouraged by the improvement in winter bookings since August. The picture is similar at TUI, which said in its pre-close update that it was "well positioned" to meet expectations for the full year.

Citigroup said the both updates should be "robust", adding: "We expect the results themselves to be uncontentious and the focus will be on the trading updates and financing costs. Both stocks have traded lower in recent sessions on concerns about working capital outflows, higher financing costs and increased competition from low-cost carriers."



Today: Results/updates: Aberdeen Asset Management, Goldshield, Pursuit Dynamics and Thomas Cook.



Tomorrow: Deutsche Bank expects to hear of £59.2m in pre-tax profits and £100.5m in earnings before interest, tax and amortisation when the pubs group Greene King issues interim results tomorrow. The dividend should remain unchanged, the broker said, but if the second half "turns out to be not quite as tough as the company expect, then there is every change that it could rise for the full year". Deutsche Bank added: "We expect a reiteration of the cautious outlook for the second half due to [macroeconomic issues in the UK]. It remains the pub group best able to weather any storms in 2010 because of the business mix and balance sheet strength."



Results/updates: Shaftesbury, ITE, Greene King and TUI Travel.



Wednesday: Panmure Gordon expects an in line update from Sage, the software group, which is due to issue full-year numbers mid-week. The company is likely to describe the market as challenging, but with "pockets of growth", such as subscription sales and UK human-resources software, the broker said, noting that Sage continues to benefit from the movement of the US dollar and the euro.

"2010 should see Sage return to [mergers & acquisitions activity], bringing non-organic revenue back on the agenda," Panmure said, adding that, in its view, consensus estimates for the year ahead were "too low", although upgrades are unlikely to be forthcoming before the first half results.

Also on Wednesday, the investment manager and stockbroker Brewin Dolphin is due to issue preliminary results. Ahead of the numbers, Numis is forecasting £220.2m in revenues, with £29.6m in pre-tax profits and £24.4bn in funds under management. "We expect [that the fourth quarter] was strong for commissions and fees with the market rally, and could conceivably beat market expectations," the broker said.

Results/updates: Optos, Brewin Dolphin and Sage.



THursday: Results/updates: Ashtead, Findel, Halma, Marston's and Kingfisher. Also: British Airways' November traffic and capacity statistics.



Friday: Bellway, the housebuilder which is due to issue an interim management statement at the end of this week, should report that volumes for the first quarter of its financial year remained relatively flat, according to Numis, which also expects the company to say that some price inflation, particularly in southern areas, was beginning to feed through.

"Elsewhere we expect the group to report that it is currently in a net cash position, has been buying new land at higher margins and is starting to open new sites," the broker added, reiterating its positive stance on the shares.

Numis also weighed in on Berkeley, which is due to report interim results this Friday. The housebuilder is likely to speak of improving volumes and some price growth in the London and South East housing market, adding that the order book is likely to have remained relatively flat at around £600m. "The market will be focussed on land acquisitions, site openings and the outlook for margins," Numis added. "We do not expect the group to report any land write downs."



Results/updates:Associated British Foods, Sthree, Berkeley and Bellway. Also: Easyjet, November passenger statistics.

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