Belfast Telegraph

Debenhams ready to lift the lid on Christmas trading figures

By Laura Chesters

Retailers report on their Christmas performance this week, with Debenhams today sharing the stage with construction groups as Balfour Beatty and Persimmon announce trading updates.

Panmure Gordon's Andy Brown retains his buy rating for the infrastructure expert Balfour Beatty, and gives it a share target of 310p, as he thinks its strategy of diversifying away from cyclical construction sectors will pay off. He adds: "A small addition to its professional service capability in the US, through acquisition of Subsurface, is a good move. It is a reminder of the push to diversify."

Results/Updates: Debenhams, Cineworld, Dunelm, Domino's Pizza, Interserve, Robert Walters, Topps Tiles.

Wednesday

Back to the supermarkets, when Sainsbury's reveals its third-quarter trading update. Every year, the City expects Sainsbury's Christmas sales to be poor and the shares fall ahead of the update in anticipation. Mostly the City has been proved wrong, but it didn't stop Oriel Securities predicting Sainsbury's will have found the period tough. They say: "Sainsbury's enjoyed a very strong 2012 as a whole and generally won market share. However, we think things have got much tougher."

Oriel's supermarket specialists think chief executive Justin King's profit forecasts could be in trouble. They say: "Like-for-like sales will have to pick up in the fourth quarter, or full-year profit before tax consensus of £742m is in trouble. More at risk still would be the 7% profit before tax growth we expect for 2013-14."

Results/Updates: Greggs, Michael Page, Ted Baker, Restaurant Group.

Thursday

Not sick of supermarkets yet? Eyes will turn to Tesco on Thursday. After lagging behind its peers in 2012, analysts at Jefferies think 2013 will be better. Jefferies' James Grzinic suggests Tesco will be the main Christmas winner, and is expected to report that like-for-like sales are improving in the UK, particularly compared with the year before. Mr Grzinic rates the shares a buy, with a 400p share price target.

Results/Updates: Marks & Spencer, Hays, Bwin. Party Digital Entertainment, Hilton Food, Goal Soccer Centres, JD Sports, London Capital Group, Rathbone Brothers, SIG, XP Power.

Friday

Oil explorer Tullow is expected to reveal more of its new strategy at a trading update. Its shares dived late last year after an oil well in Ghana came up dry. But its purchase of Norway's Spring Energy, and planned sale of its mature UK and Dutch portfolio will add value.

Results/Updates: Centaur Media, T Clarke, Mecom, Moneysupermarket.

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