Nigeria election, Renault and Nissan results
Daniel Garrahan previews some of the stories the Financial Times is watching in the week ahead, including the presidential election in Nigeria, results from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Renault and Nissan, plus a UK data release which could show the economy slowed sharply at the end of last year.
Filmed by Petros Gioumpasis. Produced by Daniel Garrahan
Here are just some of the stories the Financial Times will be watching in the week ahead. There's a presidential election in Nigeria. We've got results from soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, and the carmakers Renault and Nissan. Plus, UK data could show how the economy slowed sharply at the end of last year.
First to Nigeria, where Nigerians head to the polls on Saturday to choose between President Buhari and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar and presidential elections for Africa's most populous nation. Joblessness is a big concern for most Nigerians. Nearly a quarter of the country is out of work. Another 20 per cent are under-employed. But security will also be a key motivating factor.
Mr Buhari was elected on a promise that decimates Boko Haram. And his administration has made significant progress, winning plaudits in the country's north. But the jihadist group has ramped up attacks on military bases. Meanwhile, security crises have flared up in nearly every corner of the country.
Observers say the race is much tighter than expected, but many give Mr Buhari the edge. And the two candidates couldn't be more different.
The pair have very different styles. The president is a reticent former general, who ran the country in a military government during the 1980s. While Atiku, as he's popularly known, is an outspoken, wealthy businessman who led the country's privatisation push when he was vice-president in the early 2000s.
It's shaping up to be a closer than expected race, though most observers still gives Buhari the edge, because the power of incumbency is so strong in Nigeria. It remains to be seen if Atiku can pull enough votes from Buhari in his stronghold in the populous north. But indications right now seem like Buhari will pull it off.
Now, it's been a big year for the American beverage behemoths, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, maked by active M&A and management changes. Results for the final three months of 2018 are expected to underline just how much the company's traditional fizzy drinks have gone out of favour. Revenues for the quarter are expected to dip 6 per cent at Coke from a year ago, and to be flat at Pepsi, which also has a large food business.
The profits of both companies are looking stronger. Adjusted earnings at Pepsi are forecast to rise at about 14 per cent,, which will be the biggest improvement since 2011. But Coke analysts have pencilled in a 10 per cent improvement.
Both companies have branched into new areas, from tea to sports drinks. Coke struck a particularly interesting deal in the autumn, with a £3.9bn pound acquisition of the UK's Costa coffee chain. The deal just completed last month, though, so it won't show up in the results. At Pepsi, these will be Ramon Laguarta's first earnings, since he took over from Indra Nooyi as CEO.
The change at the helm has reopened the questions about Pepsi. It saw off an activist campaign a couple of years ago from Nelson Peltz, who called on the group to separate its beverage and snack businesses. Analysts don't expect Laguarta to announce anything so dramatic, but there will be a lot of interest In his comments on strategy.
Staying with corporate news, Renault and Nissan will both report annual results this week. But the focus is likely to be on the state of the relationship between the two companies, whose global alliance has been shaken by the arrest of its leader, Carlos Ghosn. The pair owns shares in each other, and share some manufacturing and purchasing functions. But there are questions over whether they'll carry on marching closer together, or pause their integration, and reconsider their 20-year-old relationship.
Renault and Nissan this week report annual results that are likely to show falling sales in Europe, challenges in North America, and struggles in China. But what investors will really be keen to hear about is their thoughts on the future of the alliance. The two companies have worked together for almost 20 years under the leadership of Carlos Ghosn.
But with Mr Ghosn currently in a Japanese jail, and new leadership teams in at both Renault and Nissan, investors want to hear about the future of this global alliance. There are questions over whether the two companies will continue to move closer together, with more joint work on manufacturing and other elements, or whether they'll go their separate ways and split apart.
And finally, to the UK, where data out this week is likely to show the economy slowing sharply in the last quarter of 2018, after its strong performance over the summer. The Office for National Statistics will release its first estimate of fourth-quarter growth on Monday, while inflation data is due on Wednesday.
So the GDP data, which we're getting on Monday, will tell us more about just how sharply the UK economy was slowing at the end of last year. We can expect it to look pretty poor. The Bank of England's just put out forecasts showing it's slowing to 0.3 per cent in the last quarter of the year, half the pace it was running at in the summer. We already know a lot of that, though. We know that businesses are putting plans on hold because of Brexit uncertainty. We know that consumers are getting more cautious.
When it comes to inflation, we will get some more encouraging figures over the next couple of months. We're expecting the headline rate to come down below the Bank of England's target for the first time in two years. But that's more or less due to the fall in energy prices that took place last year. Again, for the outlook, everything depends on Brexit, and what that does to the pound.
And that's what the week ahead looks like from the Financial Times in London.