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●Britvic is expected to report stronger sales of fizzy drinks when it releases interim results, as it lays out a strategy to fend off private equity interest. There has been speculation it may extend its relationship into Europe with PepsiCo, whose drinks are bottled and marketed in the UK by Britvic. The agreement allows the US drinks group to end it if Britvic comes under new ownership. Britvic has been trying to diversify and develop its brands and last week said it would buy C&C’s soft drinks business for £169.5m. C&C is also the PepsiCo bottler in Ireland. Meanwhile, Paul Moody, chief executive, will be playing down the idea of private equity interest, with Permira sitting on 14 per cent. The prospect of a formal bid lifted the shares to a record of 391p last week, valuing it at £845m.
●Having called the recovery in Marks and Spencer after Christmas, Stuart Rose will deliver his third set of annual results as the group’s chief executive. Analysts are expecting pre-tax profits of about £960m – just short of the £1bn barrier that M&S broke in its mid-1990s heyday – on turnover of £8.5bn. M&S has been rebuilding market share in women’s wear under Kate Bostock and analysts will be looking to see whether the volatile weather and unappealing product that has weighed on rivals such as Next and Debenhams is hurting Mr Rose. He may also have something to say on the opening of standalone furniture stores, as well as international expansion plans and the food business, given that he has just appointed two outsiders – Carl Leaver from De Vere and Steve Esom from Waitrose – to run the two divisions.
●Full-year results from EMI coincide with the deadline it has given four potential bidders to make offers for the music company. As a result, speculation over the intentions of Warner Music, One Equity Partners, Cerberus and Fortress is likely to overshadow what is likely to be a weak set of figures. After two profit warnings in January and February, EMI said in a trading update in April that it expected a 15 per cent decline in recorded music sales at constant currencies and flat revenues from its music publishing division. Profits will be harder hit, with a forecast that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation will fall from £276m to £174m after high levels of returns of unsold albums from artists such as Robbie Williams. Analysts will be looking for updates on its bid talks, its £110m cost-cutting programme, current sales and the impact of its decision to sell its music online without copyright protections.
●Experian, the data and credit checking company will report its maiden set of annual results after it was spun off from GUS, the retailer, last year. Analysts expect the company to report earnings before interest and tax of about $815m (£414m). They will want to know whether Experian, which typically spends about $600m to $700m on deals, will step up the pace of acquisitions in the current year. They will also want to know whether problems at LowermyBills, Experian’s US division, have improved. Experian recently said that the meltdown in the US subprime mortgage market dented sales by 5 per cent at LowerMyBills, which provides customer leads for subprime lenders.
●Cable and Wireless, which is reporting full-year results, has been a darling of the stock market over the past year as investors have bought into its vision for revival. The shares have risen 87 per cent over the past 12 months. C&W was suffering a long-term decline ever since losing its duopoly with BT in the supply of fixed-line phone services in 1991. John Pluthero, head of C&W’s UK business, is seeking revival by focusing on serving the needs of medium-sized to large companies, which has meant taking an axe to the old client base. Mr Pluthero has pledged the UK business can generate £2bn of revenue and £400m of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) sometime between 2008 and 2010 and analysts will be looking for progress towards that goal. A poll of analysts by C&W found the UK business would have £150m of ebitda in 2006-07. C&W group, which includes its smaller international businesses, is estimated to have £3.4bn of revenue and pre-tax profit of £192m in 2006-07.
●An appropriately sense of Gallic déjà vu will descend on investors in Aegis, the media buyer and research group, when they vote on two board directors nominated by Vincent Bolloré, the French investor. It is the fourth time Mr Bolloré, who owns 29 per cent of Aegis via Groupe Bolloré, has made board nominations. On each previous occasion, investors have sided with the Aegis board, which has argued that because Mr Bolloré also chairs Havas, a rival, any nominations he makes would involve a conflict of interest. Pirc, the shareholder advisory body, has also called on investors to back Aegis’s board and for Mr Bolloré to refrain from seeking more than one resolution a year on nominations.
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