Week ahead: Argos proves Home Retail star billing

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FULL-year figures from Argos and Homebase parent Home Retail Group on Wednesday come after a resurgent year for the catalogue chain, thanks to buoyant sales of tablet computers and consumer electronics.

Home Retail, which recently launched a digital makeover of its Argos business, pleased the market by hiking profit forecasts last month following a robust fourth quarter.

However, another tough year for DIY chain Homebase offset progress at Argos and the group is expected to see overall profits fall 11 per cent to £90 million.

Premier Inn and Costa Coffee owner Whitbread is expected to report another double-digit rise in annual profits tomorrow after shrugging off the horsemeat scandal and adverse weather earlier this year.

It said its performance was slightly suppressed by the impact of blizzards on its restaurants arm, while the group was also dragged into the horsemeat crisis and withdrew lasagne and beef burger products from its menus following the discovery of equine DNA on 14 February.

But analysts are expecting full-year profits to leap 14 per cent higher to £347.6m thanks to more robust results at its Costa coffee operation.

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB unveils third-quarter results on Thursday as it faces a rising threat from BT in the television market.

The update covers the three months to 31 March, with analysts at Investec expecting only a modest boost of around 15,000 in pay TV numbers over the traditionally slow post-Christmas period. Numis predicted pre-tax profits for BSkyB of £300m for the quarter.

Half-year figures from online retailer Asos are expected to show another double-digit increase in profits tomorrow after the group notched up yet more impressive sales growth.

Asos, which stands for As Seen On Screen, is expected to report a 16 per cent rise in first-half profits to around £25m after banishing fears that its home market was stagnating.

Its international arm, which has been a major driver of growth in recent years, has also performed well with sales 45 per cent higher at £110.9m in the second quarter, driven by improvements in the United States and Europe.

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