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
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv

As anti-Semitic attacks rise, Grant Feller re-evaluates his identity

Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

Life and Style
food and drink

Savoury patisserie is a thing now

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?