Markets: Resilient WH Smith focuses on profits

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HALF-year figures from books and stationery retailer WH Smith this week are expected to show continued resilience as the group focuses on profits over revenues.

Despite the high street’s woes, interim results from the retailer on Thursday are tipped to highlight the chain’s positive momentum.

Brokerage Cantor Fitzgerald expects pre-tax profits to grow 3 per cent to £67.8 million for the six months to the end of February, with the higher growth travel arm supporting the cash cow of the high street business.

The recent icy weather is also set to have provided a boost to retailer Halfords, with car maintenance sales expected to have surged in its final quarter.

Retail analyst Kate Calvert at Cantor Fitzgerald is forecasting Wednesday’s update to show like-for-like sales growth picking up to 0.8 per cent in the three months to the end of March, from 0.4 per cent in the third quarter.

But Mothercare is expected to reveal sales remaining under pressure in its fourth quarter update on Thursday as the baby­care retailer struggles to get its turnaround off the ground.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Tuesday: Nationwide Accident Repair Services, Netplay

Wednesday: Dunelm, Halfords, WS Atkins

Thursday: WH Smith, Hays, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, BP

Friday: Aggreko