Sainsbury’s rides out storm unscathed

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SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s is expected to be riding high this week when its trading update confirms it as one of the few winners in the horse meat scandal.

The group was the only one of the big four supermarkets to increase its market share in the latest industry-wide ­survey, after it was able to confirm that no horse meat had been found in its beef products.

Most analysts are forecasting like-for-like sales to rise by 2.3 per cent for the ten weeks to 16 March – a significant ­improvement on Christmas trade.

New Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside will reveal the scale of the task ahead when the firm reports broadly flat profits on Wednesday.

Consumer belt-tightening saw half-year profits dip 4.6 per cent despite the firm’s ­efforts to keep a lid on costs. And there was little cheer over the Christmas period either as the severe wet weather sent sales down 2.9 per cent. Nevertheless analysts say the firm should just beat its £53.1 million profit figure from 2011.

Conglomerate Smiths, which makes sensors used in finding explosives, weapons and drugs, is forecast to show a 17 per cent rise in half-year pre-tax profits to £253m thanks to continued strength at its oil and gas division John Crane. However, ­other businesses are likely to see growth slowing as governments tighten the purse strings.

WEEK AHEAD

Tomorrow: M&C Saatchi.

Tuesday: Cairn Energy, Johnston Press, Sainsbury’s.

Wednesday: Greggs, Smiths.

Thursday: AG Barr, Bumi, Next.

Friday: Moss Bros.

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