Thursday preview: M&S and WH Smith to report

Marks & Spencer will be in the spotlight on Thursday morning as it unveils its fourth-quarter sales figures.

Marks & Spencer will be in the spotlight on Thursday morning as it unveils its fourth-quarter sales figures.

Analysts at Nomura warned that like-for-like (LFL) clothing sales could be down as much as 6.0% despite a 3.5% rise in LFL food sales.

Total LFL sales will drop 1.3%, the first decline since 2009 when sales fell by 5.9%.

Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, said the results are likely to reflect the impact of cold weather in the UK. He pointed out that the retailer has lost market share to rivals such as Primark (owned by Associated British Foods) in the past three months.

"M&S ladieswear has been haemorrhaging market share for some time now and the Q4 update could make for pretty challenging reading for investors."

Meanwhile, WH Smith will report a 6.0% increase in half-year pre-tax profit tomorrow, according to analysts at Deutsche Bank.

The broker said last week that it expects the books and stationary retailer to post a profit before tax of £70m and group sales of £644m for the six months to the end of February, driven by growth in the travel division.

The broker recommended a 'buy' rating and raised its target price to 800p.

"The company is likely to confirm its current cost savings targets and we hope for an update about the travel division's store opening pipeline," Deutsche Bank said.

"With much of the High Street's profits already banked in H1 we see limited downside risk to forecasts in the next six months."

Thursday April 11th

INTERIMS

Matchtech Group, WH Smith

INTERIM DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE

Hargreaves Lansdown, Wilmington Group

QUARTERLY PAYMENT DATE

GlaxoSmithKline, Yamana Gold Inc.

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

Consumer Price Index (GER) (07:00)

ECB Report (EU) (09:00)

Import and Export Price Indexes (US) (13:30)

GMS

ISIS Property Trust Ltd.

FINALS

Elektron Technology, Northbridge Industrial Services, Reach4Entertainment Enterprises

IMSS

Hays

AGMS

BP, Murray International Trust, Smith & Nephew, Telekomunikacja Polska S.A GDR (Reg S)

TRADING ANNOUNCEMENTS

Marks & Spencer Group

FINAL DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE

Rio Tinto

FINAL EX-DIVIDEND DATE

Sagicor Financial Corp.

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