Job fig­ures set to re­veal re­turn of real-term pay growth

AA poised to re­veal more on its strat­egy at full-year re­sults, as Deben­hams’ div­i­dend closely watched

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - TOM REES THE WEEK AHEAD

To­day

THERE are no FTSE 350 com­pa­nies re­port­ing. Eco­nom­ics: Re­tail sales (US)

To­mor­row

The AA’s in­vestors are still tak­ing stock af­ter a tur­bu­lent year that has in­cluded a man­age­ment shake-up, re­vamped strat­egy and share price plunge. New boss Si­mon Break­well has cut the div­i­dend and out­lined more spend­ing to help kick-start a turn­around af­ter Fe­bru­ary’s profit warn­ing.

Sens­ing blood, short-sell­ers are sniff­ing around the em­bat­tled road­side res­cue firm with 10.5pc of the AA’s shares in the hands of hedge funds look­ing to profit from its trou­bles.

The break­down gi­ant has pro­posed up­ping in­vest­ment in tech and road­side car pa­trolling to wean it off us­ing costly third-party garages when de­mand surges. S&P eased fears over its grow­ing debt pile af­ter in­sist­ing in a rat­ings re­port last week that it ex­pects the AA to ride out the storm.

The re­port added that it could suf­fer in the short-term dur­ing its trans­for­ma­tion but pre­dicted that any de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in the com­pany’s bal­ance sheet would be “tran­si­tory”.

Full-year re­sults: AA, JD Sports

In­terim re­sults: AB Foods

Trad­ing state­ment: Ash­more,

Rio Tinto

Eco­nom­ics: Labour fig­ures (UK), Hous­ing data (US), In­dus­trial pro­duc­tion (US), Zew eco­nomic ex­pec­ta­tions sur­vey (EU)

Wed­nes­day

Coun­try­side Prop­er­ties is step­ping up its growth plans. Last week, the house­builder re­vealed a £135m ac­qui­si­tion to boost its pres­ence in the Mid­lands and York­shire.

The deal to buy Westleigh will “ac­cel­er­ate the group’s medium-term growth plans” in its part­ner­ships arm, and is a “good geo­graphic fit and im­me­di­ately earn­ings en­hanc­ing”, ac­cord­ing to Peel Hunt’s Gavin Jago.

Some 70pc of Coun­try­side’s homes are from its part­ner­ships divi­sion, which works with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to build lower-cost homes.

The con­struc­tion firm will be look­ing to kick on from a ro­bust first quar­ter up­date in which it built 47pc more homes.

Trad­ing state­ment: BHP Bil­li­ton, Bunzl, Coun­try­side Prop­er­ties, Hochschild Min­ing, Jupiter Fund Man­age­ment, Medi­clinic, Poly­metal Money­su­per­mar­ket, Relx, Se­gro AGM: Bunzl

Eco­nom­ics: In­fla­tion fig­ures (UK), House price in­dex (UK), Fed­eral Re­serve Beige Book (US), CPI (EU), Car regs (EU), Con­struc­tion out­put (EU)

Thurs­day

Once a be­he­moth of UK re­tail, Deben­hams’ fall from grace epit­o­mises the strug­gles of the high street. Bur­dened with huge sites on long leases while its more nim­ble on­line ri­vals streak ahead, its val­u­a­tion has plunged to just £270m.

Its share price took an­other tum­ble in Jan­uary af­ter ad­mit­ting that it had failed to en­tice squeezed shop­pers to its stores de­spite cut­ting prices.

The de­part­ment store blamed a “com­pet­i­tive” and “volatile” trad­ing en­vi­ron­ment for its trou­bles but in­vestors and an­a­lysts fear that its demise is one that it will strug­gle to re­verse given the shift from bricks to clicks in the sec­tor. Af­ter a mis­er­able Christ­mas, some ques­tions have been raised about its div­i­dend amid “fur­ther in­ten­si­fied com­pe­ti­tion within the cloth­ing in­dus­try”, warned Har­g­reaves Lans­down’s George Salmon. In­terim re­sults: Deben­hams

Trad­ing state­ment: Aca­cia Min­ing, Ren­tokil, Sky, Unilever

AGM: Aca­cia Min­ing, Domino’s, Essen­tra, Relx, Se­gro

Eco­nom­ics: Re­tail sales (UK), ECB cur­rent ac­count (EU)

Fri­day

Det­tol maker Reckitt Benckiser will be un­der pres­sure to de­liver af­ter promis­ing to re­turn to growth af­ter a stag­nant 2017.

The con­sumer goods gi­ant be­hind a string of house­hold brands, in­clud­ing Durex and Cil­lit Bang, blamed last sum­mer’s cy­ber at­tack and tough com­pe­ti­tion for its first ever year of flat sales.

Boss Rakesh Kapoor said mar­gins were be­ing squeezed by a pick-up in com­mod­ity prices and lower priced com­pe­ti­tion, but pointed out that the firm had re­turned to growth.

Reckitt is at­tempt­ing to ex­e­cute a re­struc­tur­ing that has split the firm into two new di­vi­sions, fo­cus­ing on con­sumer health­care brands and house­hold hy­giene prod­ucts.

Trad­ing state­ment: Reckitt Benckiser AGM: HSBC Eco­nom­ics: Con­sumer con­fi­dence (EU)

Deben­hams will give an in­di­ca­tion of high street con­di­tions in its in­ter­ims on Thurs­day

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