Verizon deal forms backdrop to Vodafone results

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VODAFONE’S full-year results are being released on Tuesday amid continued speculation over a deal with its American partner.

The mobile phone operator holds a 45 per cent stake of Verizon Wireless and earlier this month announced it was to receive a hefty £2.1 billion dividend from the joint venture.

It said it would announce how it plans to use the cash at the time of its full-year results.

But there have been consistent reports that Verizon, which owns 55 per cent of Verizon Wireless, is considering a buy-out of the rest of the stake or planning to make a bid for Vodafone outright.

The speculation has continued despite Verizon saying last month that it did not have “any intention to merge with or make an offer for Vodafone”.

Analysts expect results to show full-year adjusted operating profits up from £11.5bn to £11.6bn, but revenues down from £46.4bn to £44.4bn.

The full-year figures will for the first time include contributions from its acquisition last year of Cable & Wireless Worldwide, which provides high-speed telecoms services to companies such as Tesco. Vodafone has also disposed of interests in Africa, France and Poland since last time.

Halfords chief executive Matt Davies will outline his plans for the retailer on Thursday when it reveals its first full-year results since he took over in October.

The former Pets At Home boss replaced David Wild, who stepped down from the car parts and leisure firm in July amid a profits warning and a sharp sales decline.

He will set out plans for the business aimed at delivering sustainable revenue growth over the medium to long term.

He has already set the ball rolling, having just appointed former Wal-Mart Canada’s chief marketing officer Emma Fox as commercial director.

Davies said that Fox, who will join the company in September, would bring with her “a wealth of commercial experience from one of the world’s leading retail groups” together with a “clear track record of developing and delivering commercially-successful, customer-focused propositions”.

Full-year pre-tax profits have been pencilled in at £71.6 million by analysts, a sharp fall from £92.2m in 2012.

Baby products chain Mothercare will report more progress with its turnaround on Thursday as the offloading of loss-making stores and overseas expansion put it on a firmer footing.

While store closures are expected to cut revenues, the group looks set to increase underlying earnings when it publishes results for the year to the end of March.

A consensus of analyst forecasts points to underlying profits of £6.6m, up from £1.6m a year earlier.

However, its closure of 56 poorly-performing stores in the past year could hurt bottom line figures.

Last month the group shrugged off the freezing spring by reporting better-than-expected sales figures.

Mothercare reported flat UK like-for-like sales in the 11 weeks to 30 March, compared with a decline of 6 per cent in the previous quarter.

Shedding 7 per cent of its trading space has been partially offset by much stronger internet sales, with Mothercare’s Direct in Home operation growing revenues 18.2 per cent in the quarter.

The company now trades from about 250 UK stores, including 59 Early Learning Centre outlets, under a plan to have a 200-strong estate by 2015.

The group is about a third of the way through a three-year restructuring plan, overseen by chief executive Simon Calver.

Week ahead

Tomorrow: Cranswick, Mitie

Tuesday: Bloomsbury Publishing, Burberry, Marks & Spencer, Vodafone

Wednesday: Cable & Wireless, FirstGroup, Nationwide, SSE

Thursday: Halfords, Mothercare, PayPoint, Pennon, Qinetiq

Friday: HSBC