LONDON -- Next week brings us trading updates from quite a mix of companies, including one or two retailers whose Christmas trading period could prove crucial. The news will be mainly dominated by FTSE 250 companies, but we will have important updates from a handful of FTSE 100 companies, too. We'll start with a look at a few from the FTSE top tier:
Troubled fashion retailer Burberry (LSE:BRBY) is due to provide us with a third-quarter trading update on Tuesday. Actually, when I say troubled, I'm talking of the sharp price fall that happened after the firm's second-quarter sales update in September. We were told that growth had slowed and that full-year profits would be around the bottom end of market expectations -- but note that it was not a fall in profits, just slightly slower growth. But that was enough to knock 27% off the share price over the next week, sending it down to 1,001 pence.
Interim results in October showed 8% underlying revenue growth, with a 6% rise in pre-tax profit and a 14% boost for the interim dividend, to 8 pence per share. And the price has since recovered to today's 1,285 pence. Were the shares oversold in response to panic? Wednesday's update might help us decide that.
Associated British Foods
It's not a particularly seasonal company, but Associated British Foods (LSE:ABF) should be releasing a first-quarter update on Thursday. The company had a very strong 12 months to Sept. 2012, with revenue rising by 11% to 12.3 billion pounds. That led to a 17% boost to pre-tax profit and an 18% jump in adjusted earnings per share, and allowed the company to lift its dividend by 15%.
The share price responded well, too, storming up nearly 40% during the year, to peak at 1,597 pence before falling back in recent weeks to 1,507 pence. We have a couple of years of modest earnings growth forecast for this year and next, with a dividend yield of around 2% expected.
Credit-scoring agency Experian (LSE:EXPN) will release an interim statement on Wednesday, and who knows, if we've had a stronger shopping Christmas this year, maybe there'll have been a lot more credit checks being performed! Experian shares have had a good year, gaining nearly 20% to take them to today's 1,023 pence -- although the price did get as high as 1,096 pence in October.
First-half results, published in October, were good, showing a 6% rise in global revenues to $2.3 billion, and a similar 6% rise in pre-tax profit to $563 million. The company also raised its interim dividend by 5%, to 10.75 cents per share.
Switching to the FTSE 250, Thursday will bring us an important trading update from Dixons Retail (LSE: DXNS), which should shed more light on how well the High Street's Christmas went. It should also let us know how well the electrical retailer's recovery is going -- the shares tripled during 2012 to a peak of 30 pence, and are currently a little down on that at 28 pence.
There's a return to earnings growth forecast for this year, albeit a modest one, but City analysts are already suggesting growth in excess of 75% for 2014, and that should bring the price-to-earnings ratio down to 13. It looks to me like a fair bit of that expected growth is already in the share price now, but there have certainly been plenty of investors over the past six months convinced of the quality of Dixons' recovery.
OK, not many people buy houses as Christmas presents, but the homebuilding sector has enjoyed something of a resurgence over the past year. After an update from Persimmon this week, we have three companies releasing trading updates next week, starting with Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW) on Monday. The share price has soared by 85% over the past year, to reach 71.9 pence, with pretty much all of that coming in the second half. The firm's previous update, in November, told us of further improvements since its first-half results.
We should also have updates from Barratt Developments on Wednesday and Bovis Homes on Friday.
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