The Week Ahead: Vodafone set for UK iPhone announcement

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The Independent Online

The mobile phone giant Vodafone dials up half-year results tomorrow and investors will closely examine comments by its chief executive, Vittorio Colao, about key regions, notably the US. Analysts at UBS expect growth at Verizon Wireless, Vodafone's US business, to have slowed in the second quarter. UBS noted speculation that rival T-Mobile might be poised to "make some aggressive moves on price".

City analysts forecast a 9 per cent uplift in Vodafone's group revenues to £21.7bn over the half year. Analysts at Cazenove said: "We expect Vodafone to report solid first-half results, consistent with recent trends and management's guidance." Vodafone, which sells massively popular iPhone in 11 countries, may reveal when in 2010 it will start selling the Apple device in the UK.

Results/updates: Victoria, Nautical Petroleum, Latchways, Dignity, Carr's Milling Industries



TOMORROW: Northern Foods, the maker of Fox's Biscuits and Goodfella's Pizzas, unveils results for the half-year to 26 September. The City will be hoping for medium-term guidance on margins. Analysts at Evolution have pencilled in an uplift of 30 basis points to 4.3 per cent in operating margins over the half-year, following Northern Foods' decision to move away from selected low-margin own-label products. Evolution has forecast a pre-tax profit of £12.2m for the half year to 26 September, compared with £16.9m last year. But after the trading statement last month, the investment bank Citi warned of a tough year ahead for Northern Foods. Last month, Northern Foods said its group like-for-like sales rose by 2.9 per cent for the six months to 26 September in line with expectations, boosted by a strong performance from its chilled and bakery businesses.

Results/updates: Barclays, Babcock International, Cookson Group, Kewill, 888 Holdings, Avocet Mining, Lowland Investment Company, Vodafone Group, Schroders, Imperial Tobacco, UBC Media, Proventec, Yell, Intercontinental Hotels



WEDNESDAY: Comments by Justin King, the chief executive of Sainsbury's, on margins and how it is combating a revitalised Tesco will be scrutinised when the UK's third-largest grocer delivers interim results for the 28 weeks to 3 October. It is expected to unveil consensus pre-tax profits up by 16 per cent to £300m, compared with £259m last year, driven by strong sales.

Analysts at Société Générale expect Sainsbury's to reveal a 20 basis points improvement in its operating margin over the first half, but expect this to be flat at 3.2 per cent over the full year to March, as the grocer makes "substantial investment in new space with some revenue costs in addition to the increased capital expenditure". Morrisons and Tesco have operating margins of about 5 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

Sainsbury's plans to increase its store space by 15 per cent over the next two years, particularly in areas such as the North, Wales and Scotland where it is under-represented. Last month, the supermarket chain posted like-for-like sales, excluding VAT and petrol, up by 5.4 per cent for the 16 weeks to 3 October. But Mr King warned that the sector's sales growth would be dragged back by falling food inflation in the months ahead.

Results/updates: BBA Aviation, Balfour Beatty, Fenner, Great Portland Estates, Scottish & Southern Energy, Sainsbury's, Savills, Hampson Industries, Johnston Press, John Menzies, Tullow Oil, International Power, Micro Focus



THURSDAY: The City expects resilient half-year profits at Dairy Crest, the milk producer, which is benefiting from a broad spread of operations in the dairy sector. Last month, Investec said it expected to see a "modest uplift" in half-year to between £36m and £37m.

Dairy Crest is expected to tout some full-year progress on cost saving at its dairy business, which should help to offset the decline anticipated in food profits.

Results/updates: Euromoney Institutional Investor, Eurasian Natural Resources, Reed Elsevier, Securities Trust of Scotland, WHSmith, Fortune Oil, Trinity Mirror, Galiform, Keller, 3i, Dairy Crest, Aveva, Centrica, Synergy Health, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Amec, BT



FRIDAY: Results/updates: Atlas Estates, Electrocomponents, Hornby, Crew Gold

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