The Week Ahead: Eland listing is Scotland’s first float on Aim this year

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SCOTLAND will gain another listed company this morning when Aberdeen-based oil and gas producer Eland joins the Alternative Investment Market (Aim).

Eland is the first firm north of the Border to join Aim this year and only the second to stage an initial public offering (IPO), following Livingston-based gas meter specialist Energy Asset’s float on the main market in March.

Shares will begin trading at 100p, valuing the company at about £135 million. Eland was set up in 2010 to buy oil and gas assets in west Africa. On Friday the firm sealed a deal to buy a stake in an onshore field in Nigeria, paving the way for today’s flotation.

More established names on the stock market will be in action this week, with results due from Scottish technology twins Craneware and Cupid.

House broker Paul Morland at Peel Hunt thinks today’s half-year sales at Edinburgh-based dating website operator Cupid will be higher than the market is currently expecting after it bought a French rival.

Craneware, which is also based in the Scottish capital and writes billing software for hospitals in the United States, is expected to reveal its order book is 80 per cent full for the next three years when it posts full-year results tomorrow. The firm is aiming to rebuild investor confidence in its business model after a series of analysts’ downgrades.

One of the UK’s big four supermarket chains will also be in the spotlight as attention turns to the state of the pressured retail sector.

In a market dominated by special offers and price matching guarantees, half-year results from Morrisons on Thursday are expected to show evidence of a squeeze on the UK’s fourth biggest grocery chain. With pressure coming from all sides, the City expects profits for the six months to 31 July to fall 2 per cent to £434m.

The UK’s economic woes will dent profits at one of the UK’s biggest rail and bus operators on Thursday.

Go-Ahead Group – which runs London Midland, Southeastern and Southern rail services as well as 3,900 buses carrying 1.7 million passengers a day – is expected to report a 4 per cent fall in operating profits to £110.5m in the year to 30 June. The fall in profits has been caused by weaker trading in its rail division, which accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all UK journeys, as passenger growth has been slowed by the UK’s double-dip recession.

The owner of PC World and Currys is set continue its sales revival on Thursday as it benefits from its outperformance against struggling rivals.

Dixons Retail Group has emerged as one of the big winners in its sector, helped by the high-profile difficulties of Comet, Argos and BestBuy.

When it last updated the market, it said underlying operating profits across UK & Ireland rose 15 per cent to £78.8m in the year to 28 April, despite a 4 per cent sales decline.

Sports Direct International will turn the screw on its ailing rival JJB Sports when it provides another stellar update on Wednesday, potentially boosted by the Olympics.

Numis analyst Andrew Wade expects the group to report sales growth for the three months to the end of July increased from the 16 per cent in the previous quarter, although margins will be hit.He is looking for an update on the Olympics effect as Sports Direct stocks Team GB sportswear.