Belfast Telegraph

Can new team help Pace to stay ahead in set-top box race?

The Week Ahead

By Toby Green

A number of profit warnings made 2011 a year to forget for Pace, and the set-top box manufacturer will announce its preliminary results with a fresh team in charge.

As a result, comments from management are likely to be closely watched while the latest on its hard-disk supply chain, which was hit last year after its supplier Western Digital suffered major flood damage in Thailand, will also be of interest to investors.

Results/updates: Alliance Trust, Ashtead, Betfair, Cape, Cupid, easyJet, Fresnillo, Inmarsat, John Menzies, John Wood Group, Johnson Service Group, Meggitt, Michael Page, Pace and Tullett Prebon.

Wednesday

With Admiral having blamed an increase in claims for a profits warning last November that prompted its share price to drop more than 25% in just one session, this issue will be in focus again tomorrow when the car insurer announces its full-year figures.

DeutscheBank's David Brace-well says the key question is whether the recent trend is temporary and industrywide or "a structural decline in Admiral's underwriting advantage", adding that the results should provide insight into this.

Results/updates: Admiral, Chime Communications, Cobham, Costain, Dignity, Hardy Oil & Gas, Jupiter Fund Management, Legal & General, Lookers, Melrose, RPS Group, Sportech and Tarsus.

Thursday

Morrisons is expected to announce an underlying pre-tax profit of £922m. Bank of America Merrill Lynch's analysts, meanwhile, believe that the main focus will be the performance of its new trial concepts and they will be on the lookout for the supermarket's roll-out plans.

Aviva is also releasing full-year figures, and Citigroup is predicting that after the insurer's surplus capital suffered a sharp drop to £2.7bn over the third quarter, it will have managed to recover £100m since.

Nonetheless, the broker points out, this will still leave its capital buffer £1bn lower than 12 months previously.

Results/updates: Aviva, Balfour Beatty, Cineworld, Clarkson, DS Smith, H&T, Hunting, Morrisons, Schroders and Spirax Sarco.

Friday

A strong performance in December means JD Wetherspoon is expected to reveal that its first-half pre-tax profits jumped 4% to £33.4m. However, analysts warn that the rest of the financial year will be more difficult for the pubs company, with its margins continuing to be hit by the increasing cost of both food and drink.

Results/Updates: Aga Rangemaster, Aggreko, JD Wetherspoon, Marshalls, Old Mutual and SThree.