The week ahead (28/11 - 02/12/11)

Petra Diamonds hosts its special general meeting on Monday to approve board changes in relation to the step-up to the LSE Main Market from Aim.

The changes involve the appointment of two non-executive directors and the move of current executive chairman Adonis Pouroulis to a non-executive chairman role. Shareholders will also be called upon to approve the adoption of a new set of company by-laws.

'We believe all the proposed changes are positive and the appointments will bring substantial additional experience and depth to the board, and so are not expecting any issues to arise at the meeting,' said Numis analyst Andy Davidson.

Topps Tiles takes to the stage on Tuesday and while few surprises are expected relating to the 12 months, investors will be keeping a close eye on the trading statement for an indication of whether the fourth quarter run rate of -10 per cent has continued through to the current year.

With the housing market proving stagnant, this FTSE 250-listed company clearly remains highly susceptible to weakening consumer confidence.

Midweek welcomes a flurry of companies through the doors including Britvic and Marston's.

The former provided revenue data in October and while it came in slightly below analysts' expectations, management indicated that they were comfortable with consensus EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) for 2010/11 of £134.6 million.

There were some concerns prior to the update that there would be a reduced dividend, even though Britvic has had a progressive record.

Charles Pick, analyst at Numis, said: 'We initiated with an "add" in September with a target price of 357p per share on the grounds that bad news was discounted. One to reassess post the prelims; pluses are the historic record, the large synergies to be gained in France and the historic resilience of the UK soft drinks market, whereas negatives include the deepening consumer pressures, concerns about a French "sugar tax"; and the risk of a cautious 2011/12 outlook statement.'

Meanwhile Marston's is on track to report a rise in pre-tax profit, stemming from the pub restaurant new build programme, managed pubs like-for-like sales growth and a return to total profit growth in the tenanted/leased estate.

James Dawson, analyst at Charles Stanley, said: 'Marston's remains a favoured stock of ours within the sector given that it provides self-help improving trading performance and a strong dividend yield. The group's strong regional brewing offering should continue to represent a useful marketing tool.'

Sage makes it a midweek hat-trick but interpretation of the results will be somewhat complicated by the disposal of Healthcare completed in November, according to Will Wallis at Numis.

'We understand that statutory results for financial year 2011 will include only continuing businesses. However, our forecasts and consensus are based on results including healthcare and we expect the group to provide these figures in additional disclosure. We forecast 4 per cent underlying organic growth for the second half, normal seasonality with slightly improved margins and good cash flow.

'We expect the group's outlook to note macroeconomic uncertainties, but generally solid current trading,' he added.

Kingfisher issues a third-quarter trading statement on Thursday, having reported better-than-expected pre-tax profit back in September. Like-for-like sales in France were exceptionally strong through the first half at 4.5 per cent, but this is expected to slow somewhat in the third quarter.

However, similar to the first half, direct sourcing is expected to continue to benefit gross margin-driving operating profit ahead of last year.

Greene King updates investors on the same day and is on track to report a solid rise in pre-tax profit thanks to strong trading in the first quarter, despite the company's share price failing to show much investor faith.

Dawson said: 'While underlying trading will clearly be of interest to investors, so too will the update on recent acquisitions. GK has been busy with bolt-on deals, where most of the sector has not.

'Our current recommendation is "buy".'

Residential homes developer Berkeley Group wraps up events on Friday. It has been somewhat of a recovery success of late, with shares now hovering around the 1,202.50p mark, thanks to healthy earnings growth this year.

Investors will be keeping their fingers crossed that this statement justifies its share price and keeps the momentum going.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry's distributive trades survey gets the ball rolling on the economic calendar next week, but it will hardly set the markets alight.

Economists expect the balance of retailers reporting that sales were up year-on-year to have improved to -7 per cent in November after rising -11 per cent in October. However, this needs to be put into perspective; the balance averaged +16 per cent in the first half of 2011 and +42 per cent in the second half of 2010.

'Retailers will be desperately hoping that consumers loosen their purse strings over the critical Christmas spending period, however it is hard to be optimistic over the prospects for consumer spending in the near term,' said Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight.

On Tuesday, the Bank of England is expect to report that mortgage approvals for house purchases edged back up to 51,000 in October after slipping to 50,964 the previous month. Nevertheless, they remain extremely low compared to long-term norms and show little evidence that housing market activity is really shifting up a gear.

Consumer credit data is also due out on Tuesday and is likely to show that unsecured consumer credit rose by £600 million last month. This rise may suggest up an upturn in 'stressed borrowing' with more people forced to borrow to help finance their spending as a consequence of the extended squeeze on their purchasing power thanks to high inflation.

Consumer confidence is due later in the week, but unsurprisingly is on track to show that sentiment weakened further in November to slump to a 32-month low.

Specifically, Archer forecasts that the Gfk NOP consumer confidence index fell to -33 in November from -32 in October.

'We expect already very weak consumer confidence to have taken a further hit in November from mounting fears of renewed recession in the UK and heightened concern over the problems in the eurozone. There is also likely to be increased pessimism over job prospects given the recent clear deterioration in the labour market,' he said.

The construction purchasing managers' survey for November wraps up events on Friday but once again, is likely to have weakened anew after a surprising spike in October.

After jumping to 53.9 last month, economists expect this to have slipped back to around 52 in November.

Monday 28 November


(Final) Andor Technology, Sanderson Group

(Interim) Acal, CSF Group, X5 Retail Group, Phoenix IT Group, Redstone, ReNeuron Group, Software Radio Technology


Scotgold Resources, SimiGon

Ex-Dividend Payment Date

Anglogold Ashanti

Tuesday 29 November


(Final) Character Group, Evocutis, Gooch & Housego, Impax Asset Management, ITE Group, Syntopix Group, Topps Tiles

(Interim) ACM Shipping Group, Caledonia Investments, Findel, First Property Group, Iomart Group, National Bank of Greece, Quintain Estates & Development, Real Estate Credit Investments, Scapa Group


Aberdeen Asian Smaller Companies Investment Trust, Berkeley Resources, Clean Energy Brazil, Dillistone Group, Forte Energy, Global Petroleum, InterContinental Hotels Group, St Ives

Wednesday 30 November


(Final) Britvic, Marston's, Mouchel Group, Sage Group, Shaftesbury, Silverdell, Superglass Holdings

(Interim) AEA Technology, Creston, Daisy Group, Daejan Holdings, Frontline, GB Group, Hogg Robinson Group, Northumbrian Water Group, Plastics Group


Amati, Harmony Gold Mining Company, Plexus Holdings, Range Resources, Victoria Oil & Gas

Ex-Dividend Payment Date

Amec, Alliance Pharma, Headlam Group, IFG Group, Investec, JD Sports Fashion, Kewill, Land Securities Group, Northamber, National Grid, Premier Energy & Water Trust, Record, SABMiller, St Ives, Slingsby, Tate & Lyle, UK Mail Group

Thursday 1 December


(Final) OMG

(Interim) Anite, Consort Medical, Falkland Islands Holdings, Greene King, May Gurney Integrated Services, Telford


Clinto Cards

Friday 2 December


(Interim) Berkeley Group

Trading Update



Ceres Power Holdings, Trading Emissions

This was written for our sister website, Interactive Investor

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