Week ahead: Crunch time for Asda

Asda cite 'unprecedented' trading conditions for a run of below-par quarterly results. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Asda cite 'unprecedented' trading conditions for a run of below-par quarterly results. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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SUPERMARKET chain Asda publishes its latest trading figures following a run of declining quarterly sales, while housebuilder Persimmon, insurer Admiral and pawnbroker H&T will also be in focus.

Asda – owned by US giant Wal-Mart – is due to release a second-quarter update on Thursday. Last month, it saw rival Sainsbury’s overtake it to reclaim its position as the UK’s second-largest grocer for the first time since January, according to till roll data from research body Kantar Worldpanel.

Asda boss Andy Clarke has pointed to an “unprecedented” period as the major grocers battle against discounters eating at their market share.

Monday

• Bovis Homes – A further insight into the state of the housebuilding market will emerge as the group releases half–year figures.

Tuesday

• Persimmon – The house–builder is expected to turn in a healthy jump in profits when it posts its half–year results as the industry continues to benefit from helpful conditions in the new homes market. The firm, which trades as Persimmon Homes, Charles Church and Westbury Partnerships, said in an update last month that its revenues in the six months to the end of June lifted 12 per cent to £1.3 billion, as sales remained resilient in the run up to the May general election and improved subsequently.

• H&T – The country’s biggest pawnbroker is set to see profits lift when it reports its half–year results despite tougher market conditions prompted by a fall in the price of gold. Brokerage Numis expects H&T, which has 190 outlets, to post pre–tax profits up 10 per cent to £2.2 million in the six months to the end of June compared to a year ago. The period saw gold hit a five–year low though it has since staged a small rally.

• Inflation – The fall in the oil price and the strength of the pound are expected to have kept inflation at zero last month, when official figures are published.

• Wood Group – There could be news on how the continued low oil price has impacted the global headcount of the Aberdeen–based energy services group.

• John Menzies – Interim numbers are due from the Edinburgh–based logistics company.

Wednesday

• Admiral – Elephant and Diamond insurer Admiral is expected to post a fall in profits when it reports its first–half results amid tough competition among motor insurers.

Brokers at Numis expect the group, which has just over four million customers, to turn in pre–tax profits in the first six months of the year down 11 per cent to £165.2 million compared to a year ago, due to pressure on motor premium margins.

Thursday

• Asda – A second–quarter trading update will be eagerly awaited following a run of previous figures showing successive declines in quarterly like–for–like sales. The UK’s major chains have fought an intense price war against discounters such as Aldi and Lidl over the last year.

• Rank Group – The bingo club and casino operator is just about the only big name due to publish full–year results this week.

Friday

• Public sector finances – There is certain to be a forensic examination of the latest official borrowing data as the Chancellor continues his clampdown on public spending and government debt.