The plight of struggling firms Cable & Wireless Worldwide and Thorntons will be in the spotlight this week during another busy few days for results.
BAE Systems will face questions on Thursday over the threat of closure at its Portsmouth shipyard and the failure of its Eurofighter consortium to land a large contract to supply fighter jets to India.
The group, which is one of the UK’s biggest manufacturing employers, is expected to report a 10 per cent fall in underlying earnings to £2 billion in 2011 as defence spending in the UK and the US comes under pressure.
Revenues are set to be down by about £2 billion to £20 billion as a result of a reduction to supply orders to the US Army after it pulled out of Iraq and a delay in an order for Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia.
BAE recently put its warship business under review in a move which could reportedly lead to the closure of its yard in Portsmouth, Hampshire.
It employs 1,500 people at the site, while a similar number of jobs are provided in support roles. Its closure could potentially land taxpayers with a bill for up to £600 million because within a contract signed in 2009 the Ministry of Defence guaranteed BAE work for the next 15 years and is bound to shoulder the expense of any yard closures.
BAE last year signalled the end of production at its factory in Brough, Yorkshire, which employed 1,300 workers, as part of a round of 3,000 redundancies at sites across the UK.
It had already cut more than 15,000 jobs across its global operations over the previous two years in order to boost competitiveness.
The company was recently hit by the news that its Eurofighter consortium is likely to lose its battle with French rival Dassault for a lucrative contract to provide fighter planes to India.
BAE had been hoping to partly assemble 126 Eurofighter Typhoon jets at Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire as part of the contract.
Dassault was recently named preferred bidder, although BAE has stressed it is not out of the race yet.
On Monday, the US Department of Defense is set to give an update on its budget summary, which is set to have implications for BAE.
Chocolatier Thorntons will be hoping that new ranges in the run up to Valentine’s Day lift it out of its trading slump.
The group recently warned it will roughly break even in the year to June, compared with £4.3 million profit in the previous year, as it is forced to drop prices to drum up trade.
The Derbyshire-based group, which employs 3,000 staff and has a 7.7 per cent share of the UK chocolate market, has already revealed that like-for-like sales fell by a worse than expected 4.2 per cent in the second quarter of its financial year.
Its share price has fallen 85 per cent to its lowest level in two decades, giving the company a market value of just £10 million.
New chief executive Jonathan Hart launched a turnaround plan that involves closing up to 180 of its 579 stores over the next three years.
The 100-year-old retailer also introduced a new line-up of gifting chocolate, champagne, cards and flowers designed to help lift sales for birthdays and other celebrations throughout the year, leaving it less reliant on Christmas and Easter.
The range includes personalised gifts that allow people to write names on chocolates or put a photograph on the top of a chocolate box.
Investors will be looking for clues as to whether the plan has helped boost sales around Valentine’s Day - a key time of the year for the retailer.
Mr Hart also wants to gear the business more towards selling through its website and to supermarkets.
Domino’s Pizza will roll out more strong profits on Wednesday while the Olympics and Euro 2012 are set to provide a further boost in the coming months.
The group, which has 726 stores in the UK, Ireland and Germany, grew sales by 9.4 per cent to £530.6 million in 2011, helped by opening a record 62 sites.
The economic downturn has only served to heighten its appeal as people eat in more to save money, although its growth in 2011 was much slower than in the previous year as it came up against tough comparisons from the World Cup.
Online sales grew some 43 per cent and now account for nearly half its orders, as customers use special apps for smartphones or order through its Facebook page, which has more than 400,000 fans who are offered special deals such as 50 per cent off.
The group has also been rolling out its gourmet ranges and stuffed crusts to help drive sales. The latest flavour, Quattro Formaggio is topped with mozzarella, Greek feta, Bavarian blue and gran moravia cheeses with sundried tomato and garlic sauce.
Douglas Jack, an analyst at Numis Securities, expects the group to report that profits grew by 10.5 per cent to £42 million in 2011.
He thinks the group will open a further 60 stores in 2012 and the group has a big year ahead of it because sales will be boosted by the Euro 2012 football championships and the Olympics in London.
He said: “In 2012, like-for-like sales should benefit from easy comparatives, no VAT increase and a strong sporting calendar.”
A new batch of gaming machines and the increasing popularity of online gambling is expected to boost Ladbrokes on Thursday.
The group, which runs 2,100 betting shops across the UK, said winnings from its gaming machines rose by 20.4 per cent to an average per week of £866 in the three months to September 30, and further growth is expected in the final quarter.
Online sales are also set for growth after an advertising push in a bid to help it gain ground with rivals such as Wink Bingo owner 888. It has been offering to match first-time bets of up to £50 to entice people to try their luck on its website.
Earlier this year it said a big marketing push started in August had increased the number of new online customers by nearly 40 per cent.
The group also recently launched its ‘Game On’ TV advertising campaign fronted by Italian football commentator Tiziano Crudeli, renowned for his excitable style.
Ivor Jones, an analyst at Numis Securities, is expecting the group to report a strong final quarter, following in the footsteps of rival William Hill, which it said enjoyed an “outstanding few days at the end of the year”.
But despite the improvement in the final quarter, the group is still expected to report a 21.5 per cent fall in annual profits to £152.3 million as it came up against strong comparatives with the previous year when the World Cup boosted revenues.
It also had to shut more than 200 betting shops during August’s unrest, which reduced the amount taken in bets over the counter by 3.5 per cent.
Ladbrokes was last year in talks to buy rivals Sportingbet and 888 but failed to reach a deal, which was widely seen as an effort to boost its online growth. The industry is thought to be ripe for takeovers.
Ladbrokes traces its history to 1886 and is also a market leader in Ireland, Belgium, Italy and Spain.
The new boss of Cable & Wireless Worldwide will reveal his strategy for turning the ailing telecoms firm around on Thursday in a bid to appease angry shareholders.
The group, which provides high-speed telecoms services to the police and companies including Tesco, has issued three profits warnings in the space of a year as it suffers amid the squeeze in Government spending and the weak economy.
It recently reported heavy losses in the six months to September 30 and has said it is pulling future dividend payments to shareholders as it looks to rebuild its balance sheet. Its shares have plummeted by 75 per cent in the past year despite a resurgence in recent weeks.
Former Vodafone executive Gavin Darby became the third chief executive in a year in November.
He will address the market for the first time when he outlines plans to turn the company around and soothe shareholders angry at the generous pay dished out to former executives despite the company’s poor performance.
Mr Darby originally planned to announce his plans in May but was forced to bring forward the date amid rising shareholder unrest.
He has already announced a cost-cutting initiative which analysts at Espirito Santo believe includes a recruitment freeze. They also believe he has put several parts of the business under review, including the UK network assets, the international assets or the mid-market business, but they think it will be too soon into his tenure to announce a disposal. However, they expect a number of measures to boost sales.
He has already started making changes to the management and there may be further changes announced in the results.
Former chief executive John Pluthero announced he would step down in November after just half a year in the job. He has reportedly received £15 million in pay and bonuses since 2006 after he joined following the acquisition of Energis. Former chief executive Jim Marsh was ousted in June.
The company, which split from C&W’s Caribbean telecoms arm in 2009, posted bottom-line losses of £443 million in its first-half driven by write-downs on the value of acquisitions.
The Bank of England will give a clearer insight into how deep and long it expects the current downturn in the economy to last when it publishes its quarterly inflation report on Wednesday.
The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is expected to hold firm with its forecasts for growth and inflation as economic indicators reveal a recovery to be on a knife edge.
While forecasts from the likes of think-tank Niesr suggest the economy will shrink this year and official figures revealed a 0.2 per cent contraction in the final quarter of last year, industry surveys for January have offered some hope for the outlook.
However, the Bank once again flagged the potential threat the eurozone debt crisis poses to the UK recovery as it justified its decision to pump an additional £50 billion into its quantitative easing programme.
In its last quarterly report in November, it forecast gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by no more than 1 per cent in both 2011 and 2012 and inflation to hit the Government’s 2 per cent target in the second half of this year before falling to as low as around 1.3 per cent in 2013.