Results from Tesco are likely to hog the spotlight on Wednesday as Chief Executive Phillip Clarke sets out his plans for stopping the steady erosion of the supermarket chain's market share in its home market.
The company is expected to put a price on how much it thinks it needs to invest to get the UK stores back on track. Under the previous Chief Executive, Terry Leahy, the company seemed more concerned at cutting costs and squeezing suppliers than it did on making shopping a pleasant experience, or so the criticism goes.
There is some merit in these accusations; broker JPMOrgan Cazenove noted recently that in the middle of the last decade Tesco would typically employ 6.3 members of staff for every 1,000 square feet of selling space (excluding petrol stations), but this has now fallen to 4.8, a level below that of its major competitors Sainsbury (5.1) and Morrisons (6.8).
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Something to think about next time you are waiting in a queue at Tesco.
The market is expecting profit before tax of £3.6bn on sales of £65.8bn. Earnings per share are tipped to be 33.6p while the dividend - which is becoming a key appeal of the share price - is seen rising to 15.06p for the whole year from 14.46p the year before.
Hot on the heels of Rio Tinto's first quarter production update comes a a first quarter totting up from sector peer BHP Billiton.
Credit Suisse forecasts global attributable production of 36.9 tonnes. For the group's Western Australia operations alone, it is forecasting output of 40m tonnes, "reflecting continued ramp up offset by the cyclone impacts during the period."
"In Copper we forecast production of 265kt [thousand tonnes] as copper grades at Escondida remain low. For Petroleum we forecast production of 60Mboe [barrels of oil equivalent], up slightly from 58Mboe in Dec-11. In Met [metallurgical] Coal we forecast 7.6Mt [million tonnes], down from 8.5Mt in Dec-11 due to industrial action in Feb-Mar 2012 and wet weather impacts," Credit Suisse added.
If you need a drink after wading through all the tables covering third quarter and nine month production figures for the plethora of minerals BHP Billiton extracts from the ground, then pubs group Spirit Pub Company very likely has a pub situated near you which will be only too happy to serve you.
Panmure Gordon thinks the company might announce its first dividend since being spun off from Punch Taverns when it publishes its interim results on Wednesday.
"The group is well positioned to capitalise on the structural growth in eating out and should announce a maiden interim dividend," the broker reckons.
"At the Q2 IMS [second quarter interim management statement] the company reported a solid performance with Managed pub LFL [like-for-like] sales of 4.6% for the 12 weeks to March 3rd, ahead of our forecast of 3.1%," the broker noted.
"The group is reporting forecast beating LFL sales growth and over the next two and a half years it will convert up to 100 pubs from the leased estate into managed pubs. Further value should be unlocked by operational turnaround of its leased pub estate which has suffered from a lack of capital and operational attention," Panmure Gordon added, as it laid out its case for its "buy" recommendation and 67p target price for Spirit.
On the economic front, the minutes from the April meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), the policy-setting team at the Bank of England, will be released.
"We expect see the same vote pattern as in March (unanimous for leaving Bank Rate unchanged, Adam Posen and David Miles voting for more QE [quantitative easing])," revealed Barclays Capital (BarCap).
UK jobless figures will be released at 9:30am. The claimant count rate for March is expected to remain unchanged from February's level at 5%, with the claimant count forecast to have risen by 7,000 in March after rising 7,200 in February.
Using the International Labour Organisaton (ILO) basis of calculation, the moving three-month unemployment rate for April is tipped to remain at 8.4%.
Spirit Pub Company
INTERIM DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
News Corp. 'A' Shares, News Corp. 'B' Shares
INTERIM EX-DIVIDEND DATE
Albemarle & Bond Holdings, James Halstead, NB Global Floating Rate Income Fund Ltd GBP
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS
Crude Oil Inventories (US) (15:30)
MBA Mortgage Applications (US) (12:00)
Hightex Group, Integra Group GDR (Reg S), OJSC Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works GDR (Reg S), Tesco
Computacenter, GKN, Hunting
SPECIAL EX-DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
Aberdeen Smaller Companies High Income Trust, Athelney Trust, Bunzl, Dialight, Dragon Oil, Drax Group, Hunting, Moneysupermarket.com Group, Octopus Titan VCT 5, Promethean World, Zenergy Power
UK ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS
Claimant count rate (00:00)
Unemployment Rate (09:30)
FINAL DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
Baronsmead VCT 5, Lancashire Holdings
FINAL EX-DIVIDEND DATE
Aga Rangemaster Group, Aggreko, Arbuthnot Banking Group, BAE Systems, BBA Aviation, British Smaller Companies VCT 2, Burford Capital Ltd., Capita, Clarke (T.), Costain Group, Downing Planned Exit VCT 2011 (General Shares), Downing Planned Exit VCT 2011 (Low Carbon Shares), Downing Planned Exit VCT 2011 (Structured Shares), Dunedin Income Growth Inv Trust, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, International Personal Finance, Johnson Service Group, Kazakhmys, Legal & General Group, Microgen, Molins, Norish Units, office2office, Old Mutual, Petrofac Ltd., Resolution Ltd., Secure Trust Bank, Smith & Nephew, Spirax-Sarco Engineering, StatPro Group, Taylor Wimpey, Tullow Oil, Unite Group, Vitec Group
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