September 28, 2008
VOL 25 NO 39
Delta Index
Market Watch - Sean Quinn

Sean Quinn could be forgiven for regretting ever getting involved in Irish banks or perhaps he is playing a long game, a very long game. Quinn has acknowledged losses on his stake in Anglo Irish. He now has 15% stake in the bank along with members of his family.

Last week started with excited talk of Anglo Irish gobbling up Irish Nationwide which has very challenging re-financing problems. Some analysts like the idea of tie-up between the two, others fear for the whole of the Irish banking sector. Either way Anglo shares were down on the week by almost 24%, despite a rally of sorts on Friday. Quinn must be in for the long haul, because the short haul doesn't look very encouraging for the sector.

2008-09-28 12:00:00
Market Watch - Tesco

This week British retail giant Tesco will fully disclose the results from its fledgling US business, Fresh & Easy, for the first time. All eyes will be on its performance and the scale of its losses.

Tesco has been guiding a loss of about €125m for the year and sales densities, meaning sales per square metre, will be the key factor as shareholders weigh up the division's performance. Feedback from management on how it has learnt from its experience in America will also play a part in how the market reacts.

Aside from that, the company is expected to report good like-for-like sales growth despite a slippage in its market share in Britain, its key market. Citi Investment Research, for example, is predicting like-for-like sales growth of about 4%, when fuel is stripped out. Trading profits, it says, are like to have increased by 11.3% to £1.39bn and would be even better but for the heavy losses forecast in the United States.

Despite a slight fall in its market share, underlying sales are still growing, a boon in these turbulent times, and the retailer is winning market share outside Britain which will help boost its performance given the comparative weakness of sterling against the euro.

Citi is forecasting growth of more than 40% in its European business, with a consequent leap in profits if margins have improved. In addition, Tesco's performance in Asia is expected to have improved by nearly 25%, despite the costs of integrating its Malaysian business.

Tesco's move into personal finance has proven profitable: the company's sales are expected to have grown by 20% year on year, a highly creditable performance.

After the end of the half-year, Tesco bought Royal Bank of Scotland out of its financial services division for nearly €1.25bn, suggesting management will increase focus on this area and believe it provides strong growth opportunities.

2008-09-28 12:00:00

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