The Week Ahead: Updates due from Dixons, Majestic Wine, Whitbread, Flybe and Crest Nicholson

A joint Currys and PC World store

A joint Currys and PC World store - Credit: Archant

Annual results will confirm a turnaround in fortunes for PC World and Currys owner Dixons Retail this week, while figures are also due from Majestic Wine and Whitbread.

Dixons Retail should post a sharp rise in profits on Thursday as it enjoys a resurgence, helped by the demise of rival Comet.

It has been reaping the benefits of being the last consumer electricals specialist left standing in the sector, recently reporting a 13% leap in like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland over the three months to the end of April.

Dixons said at the time of its fourth quarter trading figures that it expected full-year underlying pre-tax profits at the top end of expectations of £75million to £85m,a 20% surge on the £70.8m reported the previous year.

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said Dixons was also benefiting from the recent recovery in the housing market, which has been boosting demand for white goods.

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But as well as the better trading conditions, Dixons is also ploughing ahead with self-help measures by targeting £90m in cost savings and restructuring underperforming European businesses.

Tomorrow, Majestic Wine will be looking to toast another rise in annual profits despite a challenging 12 months dampened by the wash-out summer.

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Last year’s bottom line figure increased by 14.5% but analysts Investec expect growth of 1.7% to £23.6m for the year to the end of March.

The wine merchant managed to push half-year profits up by 4% despite saying that summer sales were adversely affected by unseasonable weather that saw the cancellation of a large number of outdoor events.

Cheer over sales during the Christmas period was also muted, with like-for-like growth of 1.1% in the UK for the seven weeks of trading from November 13 to December 31. It meant the figure for the first 39 weeks of the year was up 0.8%.

Investec has lowered its forecast for profits and like-for-like sales growth, which it now expects to be up by 0.75% rather than 1%. This compares to a figure of 2.6% in 2012.

Regional airline Flybe is expected to dive deeper into the red when it reports annual figures on Friday after a turbulent year.

The carrier recently warned annual losses for the year to March will be bigger than feared at around £23m as it is squeezed by higher fuel costs and the tough economy.

It has been taking tough action to pull the business out of its tailspin, most recently quitting Gatwick Airport by selling its runway space there to budget rival easyJet for £20m, while also slashing jobs and cutting its pilots’ pay by 5%.

Analysts at HSBC said the recent restructuring measures were “broadly sensible” but added: “The company will need to show investors it is able to turn the plans into reality.”

Flybe’s losses will mark another tough year for the group after it slumped into the red in the UK by £2.2m in the 12 months to March 2012 against profits of £5.7m the previous year.

Whitbread should be perked up by sales from its Costa coffee chain when it unveils first quarter trading figures on Tuesday.

Its budget hotel chain Premier Inn is also expected to have done well although its performance will be compared with an especially strong first quarter last year when its performance raced ahead of the rest of the sector.

And freezing weather during March is likely to have seen takings for the group’s Beefeater and Brewers Fayre restaurants fall flat.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley forecast a 2.5% like-for-like sales boost for Whitbread’s hotels, with a 3% increase for the coffee chain, Overall like-for-like sales are forecast to climb 2% for the group.

House builder Crest Nicholson is expected to toast its promotion to the FTSE 250 index by announcing a rise in half-year profits on Tuesday.

The Surrey-based firm, a residential developer focused on the southern half of England, has been upgraded to the second tier of London’s shares just four months after returning to the stock market.

The company has already announced legal completions of 810 for the six months to the end of April, a 9% increase on the 746 achieved in the same period the year before.

Analysts at Numis expect to see pre-tax profits for the period at £27m, up from £16m last year.

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