The Week Ahead: Whitbread goes full steam ahead with Premier Inn

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Analysts expect another positive update from Premier Inn-owner Whitbread, with many in the City anticipating a positive outlook with the hospitality group's full-year figures this Thursday.

The company has had a good recession, winning plaudits as update after update evidenced the resilience of its businesses. The share price is telling in this regard, swelling from around 900p at the beginning of 2009 to above 1600p last week. But Whitbread isn't expected to run out of steam just yet, with numerous analysts reiterating their "buy" views ahead of the figures this week.

Société Générale expects the market to focus on the road ahead for Premier Inn, noting "clear evidence that the hotel cycle is going forward a bit faster than anticipated".

"[The French hotel group] Accor underlined solid first-quarter sales for hotels in the UK, and as Whitbread strongly outperformed peers last year, we believe management could guide for slightly higher revenues per available room, or RevPar, for 2011 than before," the broker said, adding that such a nudge higher could "pave the way" for further share-price gains.

Panmure Gordon, which forecasts 2 per cent RevPar growth for 2011, is also positive on Premier Inn's prospects, citing recent industry data from STR, which reported that RevPar rose by almost 13 per cent in London and by 1.1 per cent in the regions in the 28 days to 27 March. "We also note that PricewaterhouseCoopers (by no means the most optimistic of commentators) forecasts 1.6 per cent growth in the UK regions during 2010 and Whitbread believe its should be able to outperform the market," the broker said last week.

Today: Numis is looking forward to a "solid" statement from Telecity, the data centres specialist which is due to post an interim management statement this morning, with trading during the first quarter likely to have been consistent with full-year expectations.

"We anticipate that the group will make public details of planned data centres [for example in London] in the fairly near future, and [this update] may present that opportunity," the broker said, noting that conditions in the data-centre market remain benign.

Altium is also hopeful and, like Numis, sees the possibility of news on the extension of Telecity's network. "The one note of caution regards currency, following the recent strengthening of the pound versus the euro," Altium said, pointing out that: "Telecity generates close to 50 per cent of revenues in the Euro zone".

Results/Updates: UK Coal and Telecity.

Tomorrow: The support-services group Connaught is set to post half-yearly results tomorrow and, according to the analysts at Investec, among the items of interest will be the company's accounting policies.

"Connaught's accounting policies appear more aggressive than peers, with more cost being taken into the balance sheet," the broker said. "It is possible Connaught will restate historic profits downwards to bring it in line with peers, but we believe it is more likely they will provide more detail to allow investors to adjust the results if they wish."

On the sales front, Altium expects the first half to prove weak, though there should be scope for improvement over the second half.

"We expect full-year sales to be more weighted towards the second half than usual due to the impact of the weather in January and February, which we believe is likely to have impeded repair and maintenance work in particular," the broker explained.

Results/Updates: Lloyds Banking Group, Imperial Tobacco, Premier Foods, BP, ARM Holdings and Connaught.

Wednesday: Results/Updates: British American Tobacco, Home Retail Group, Segro, Carpetright and GlaxoSmith- Kline.

Thursday: Deutsche Bank is anticipating news of continued demand for Sky's high-definition, or HD, offering when the pay-TV group issues a quarterly update later this week. "Normally, the third quarter is a 'small quarter'," the broker said, explaining that post-Christmas belt-tightening usually prompts an increase in customer churn and some moderation in gross additions. "However, this third quarter should be rather 'noisier', with the 'echo' of Sky having marketed aggressively in the second quarter, an aggressive campaign in the third quarter itself and an offer heavily aimed at bringing subscribers in on the HD product and at up–selling existing customers to HD."

Results/Updates: AstraZeneca, Charter, Go Ahead, Hammerson, Jardine Lloyd Thompson, McBride, HMV, BG, William Hill, Taylor Wimpey, British Sky Broadcasting and Whitbread.

Friday: Results/Updates: Rentokil Initial and Barclays.