Belfast Telegraph

Big names set to release latest trading statements

By Mark leftly

A swathe of red blocks signalling 20% off bedding, curtains, lights and furniture currently dominates the front page of the Dunelm website.

Investors will be hoping for very little red in the retailer's trading statement today, though, particularly after Dunelm failed to pay thousands of staff last week due to "administrative error".

Numis analyst Chris Millington expects residential developer Persimmon to confirm strong trading for the end of 2013 tomorrow, with some house price inflation also helping the figures. However, he still thinks the stock is "expensive relative to peers", with shares at well over £12.

All eyes will be on Marks & Spencer and Tesco on Thursday, as the great retail empires are expected to confirm yet more cracks in what investors had long believed were indestructible foundations.

Marks 'n' Sparks is forecast, at best, flat sales in clothing, footwear, and homewares on a like-for-like basis.

Numis scribbler Andrew Wade says M&S shares "look inexpensive from a cash flow perspective but, on the back of nine previous quarters of negative like-for-like sales, we remain unconvinced by the crucial piece of the jigsaw – the improvement in trading trend in the general merchandise division".

Tesco's chief executive Philip Clarke is expected to remain in the long shadow of his predecessor, Sir Terry Leahy, with a poor six weeks of sales to January 4.

Talking of Tesco, the meat packer Hilton Food Group issues a trading report on Friday. Last month, Hilton announced a new agreement as a supplier to Tesco that runs to February 2019.

Belfast Telegraph

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