STOCK MARKET WEEK: Sainsbury and Whitbread lay on a spread for the new administration

Food and drink is served up in the first week of the Labour administration.

Tomorrow J Sainsbury, the superstores chain, and Whitbread, now more of a leisure company than a traditional brewer, offer results.

With the stock market accepting Labour's landslide victory with splendid indifference it is possible results could provide the main talking point.

On Friday an early mark-down pulled in a few buyers, although utilities were under pressure as the message finally got home that their relatively comfortable existence could be coming to an end.

At this stage, of course, Footsie forecasts remain unchanged. After all, it is the size of the majority, not the result, which is a surprise and has not been factored into calculations. So hopes Footsie could stretch to 5,000 points in a year's time remain undimmed.

Still, it is doubtful if Footsie will experience the same strength under Labour as it enjoyed with the Tories. When John Major returned to No 10 five years ago Footsie was 2,436. Last week it closed at a peak of 4,455.6.

Although blue chips have romped ahead this year their performances have been far from uniform.

While drugs and banks have scored gains of more than 20 per cent distributors and vehicle engineers at the other end of the spectrum are down 10 per cent with the market fretting about the impact of sterling's strength on industrial profits.

Richard Jeffrey at Charterhouse Tilney thinks the fall has been overdone but "it may not be until later in the year that this area of the market moves back into favour".

He sounds a note of caution about the market's strength. "In the near term sentiment is likely to be dominated by the threat of rising interest rates in both the UK and US. We continue to believe that these will do more damage to sentiment than the current trends in share prices are indicating."

Another aspect of the bull run, which has drawn forth little comment, is the failure of second-liners to join in the fun. Their reluctant performance is illustrated by the FTSE 250 index, measuring the top companies outside Footsie.

True, after a somewhat sluggish display it picked up steam and established a modest string of record highs earlier this year.

But since peaking at 4,729.4 in March, the index has lost ground as Footsie has been in record-breaking form. Last week it closed at 4,498.1.

The brewers are among those which have not fully shared in Footsie's celebration. The sector has been ruffled by worries about the level of Labour's minimum wage and the introduction of a 48-hour week.

Pledges that the traditional head should be discounted when measuring a pint of beer could also cost the beerage dear.

Talk of the fierce competition among the big brewers and that the growing strength of retailers - pubs, supermarkets and hotels - will keep prices flat in a declining market has also taken its toll.

But Whitbread as the smallest of the major brewers can probably leave its bigger rivals, Bass and Scottish & Newcastle, to slug it out.

Under chairman Sir Michael Angus it has been highly adventurous and its collection of pub/restaurants, fast-food outlets, assorted restaurants, hotels and even coffee houses make it more a rounded hospitality group with brewing accounting for only 13 per cent of its profits.

Merrill Lynch expects year's profits to emerge at pounds 320m, up from pounds 283m.

On the other hand, Sainsbury is set to confirm that it has had a rotten year. It has been outgunned by deadly rival Tesco and in January felt obliged to put out a profit warning.

So the once-leader of the supermarket pack faces a doleful profits presentation. Around pounds 650m against pounds 764m with an unchanged 12.1p dividend is expected.

Its shares have fallen from a 582p peak in l994 to finish last week at a sad 341.5p. They have been down to 308p.

Is the worst over? NatWest Securities is far from sure. Its highly rated analysts, Tony MacNeary and Mike Dennis, say: "It is still too early to talk of recovery and the basis for profit upgrades remains absent." They add that clear evidence margins have stabilised is needed for any optimism to develop over the shares.

Another struggling retailer is in action this week, Kwik Save. It is five months into a five-year restructuring programme that is aimed at arresting a damaging profits slide.

Interim profits on Thursday are not expected to produce any hope of better things to come. With the revamp still in its infancy and many of the old problems still unresolved the no-frills food retailer is likely to produce profits of pounds 41m against pounds 44.2m.

Year's results are seen as emerging at pounds 70m against the pounds 135m of a few years ago.

Body Shop International, another high street chain where profits have been far from spectacular, should offer evidence of a return to growth. Year's results, also on Thursday, of pounds 39m against pounds 32.7m, are regarded as the most likely outcome.

Today British Petroleum offers quarterly results. Its last three-monthly figures were below market expectations; the first time such a disappointment had occurred since 1992.

This time round if the oil giant manages net income at, say pounds 715m, it should satisfy the ever-demanding market.

Royal Bank of Scotland, tomorrow, is forecast to produce interim figures of pounds 360m against pounds 301m.

It should have experienced strong banking profits, but the Direct Line insurance off-shoot is unlikely to do better than break even.

Others reporting tomorrow include BSkyB and Tate & Lyle. The satellite television station should offer nine-month profits of, say, pounds 220m, up from pounds 178m.

T&L has had a tough six months, particularly in the US, and its interim results will represent a bitter swallow with the sugar group reporting about pounds 130m against pounds 162.3m.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album