LONDON -- We won't be getting a lot of company news next week, but what we'll lack in quantity will be made up for in quality, as some key companies in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 report full-year and interim figures. Here are five that you might want to dig into ahead of their news releases...
Associated British Foods
Food and textile firm Associated British Foods
On Tuesday, the company will deliver full-year results, and they should be good. September's pre-close update said that second-half operating profit should be "substantially ahead of last year and in line with expectations," suggesting current forecasts for a 16% rise in earnings per share are on the mark.
It's a quality company, but like most it's highly valued, with the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of 16. That's higher than the FTSE average, and the dividend is only likely to be around 2%.
It's interim time for Marks & Spencer
At the first-quarter stage in July, significant progress towards multi-channel retailing was seen, with a 15% rise in sales -- getting the mix of high-street and online sales right is increasingly key to successful retail these days. The full year is expected to be relatively flat, with a dividend of around 4.5% expected, so some hints as to how that is going would be welcome.
Over to the FTSE 250, we have interim figures from FirstGroup
At the time of FirstGroup's last trading update, things were in line with expectations, but that was the day before the franchise news broke. Forecasts suggest a full-year dividend of 12%, but that's looking very uncertain. And there's a lot of debt on the books. But with the shares on a P/E of under 7, we could have a nice recovery prospect on our hands.
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Thursday should bring half-time figures from biotechnology specialist BTG
BTG has been oscillating between profit and loss for the past few years, but things look to have stabilized in 2012 and we have steady profit growth forecast for the next two years.
But like many high-tech growth companies, BTG's shares are highly rated -- on a P/E of 30 with no dividends in sight yet.
Tate & Lyle
Back to the FTSE 100 to finish this week's look, and it's time for first-half results from Tate & Lyle
An update in September told us the firm's Bulk Ingredients divisions is enjoying strong sales of liquid sweeteners, with its Specialty Food Ingredients division showing improved performance (though some specific problems should mean profits for that division will be down on last year).
If you're planning to spread your money across different sectors like these, going for companies that pay regular dividends can help cushion you against adverse share price movements.
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