The week ahead: Superstorm helps Aggreko power on

 

The week before Christmas and with just a handful of corporate updates the City will focus on economic news as well as signs of consumer confidence and spending. Inflation is expected to drop and the consumer price index is forecast to have fallen slightly to 2.6 per cent for November. But what spending power will shoppers have in the final run-up to Christmas?

Today

Turning to one of the few companies updating this week, investors will be hoping to see Aggreko powering ahead. The Glasgow-based temporary power supplier got a boost from work in the US in the wake of superstorm Sandy. But the company has already highlighted that it has increased its bad-debt provision and reminded shareholders of the risks involved in some of the locations where it operates.

The stock was downgraded after its third-quarter results and Mike Murphy at Numis expects awareness of these risks to continue to act "as a brake on the share price". But he expects the trading update today to show management is cautiously optimistic about the outlook for next year.

Tomorrow

Oil-services group Petrofac was the subject of vague bid rumours earlier this month but tomorrow the focus will be on its pre-close trading update. Liberum Capital's Andrew Whittock thinks the market already expects the group to beat expectations, but the questions is by how much. He expects management to maintain its positive stance on the prospects for new contracts. "The target of doubling earnings by 2015 should be reiterated," Mr Whittock adds. He also expects Petrofac to deliver strong growth of more than 20 per cent in 2013. The news is likely to be good but Liberum thinks the shares have performed well since October and the price is now close to its long-standing target of 1,703p. Liberum gives the stock a hold rating.

Results/Updates: Armour Group, HiWave Technologies, Keller Group, Park Group.

Wednesday

Bunzl, the "one-stop-shop" distribution and outsourcing group, has managed to stay ahead of the general slowdown. But when the group reveals its trading update on Wednesday Numis' Mike Murphy expects its growth rate to have slowed to the 2 per cent seen in the third quarter, down from the 4 per cent seen in the half-year results. Mr Murphy thinks the demand growth for Bunzl's products "tends to be slightly ahead of GDP" but admitted: "Although we remain long-term fans of Bunzl we do not see outperformance from current levels."

Thursday

Serco has had a good 2012. It has won no less than £1bn of contracts across 23 clients, and analysts at Canaccord Genuity think, over the medium-term, management will increase the exposure to the Americas. Its trading update on Thursday should reveal a good stream of activity. Canaccord thinks there is more good news ahead. Serco is a short-listed bidder on two of the prison contracts available from the Ministry of Justice and is also on the list for the Electronic Monitoring Services contract. Canaccord gives it a buy recommendation and a share price target of 700p.

Results/Updates: Jersey Electricity, Carnival.

Friday

Berendsen, the textiles-cleaning services group, will update on its cost-cutting initiatives on Friday. Oriel Securities' analysts think the group is gaining good sales momentum. Despite difficult economic headwinds, its business supplying uniforms and linen to the healthcare, hotels and industrial sector has weathered the storm. Oriel's analysts give it a share price target of 650p and a buy recommendation.

Economics Diary

Today

Bank of England quarterly bulletin, Rightmove house-prices survey, US Empire State manufacturing index.

Tomorrow

Office of National Statistics house-price data, UK producer-price index, UK consumer-price index, retail price index and Bank of England inflation letter.

Wednesday

Bank of England monetary policy committee meeting minutes, Confederation of British Industry reported sales data.

Thursday

UK retail sales figures, EU trade balance, US unemployment claims, US natural gas storage update.

Friday

GfK consumer-confidence survey, UK public-sector net borrowing, final third-quarter current account, GDP and total business investment data..

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