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Financial Times: Filtronic aims for predictability

Published: January 30 2006
*Filtronic, which is due to report its interim results, has “a long record of not meeting expectations”, according to one analyst. Today's announcement will provide clues as to whether the company, which makes microwave electronics for the wireless telecommunications and defence industries, is moving into more profitable and predictable times following the sale last year of its LK handsets business. That allowed Filtronic to pay down debt and reinvest in areas with greater growth potential, such as its wireless infrastructure operation. Last month, the company said trading in wireless infrastructure and in its integrated products division was in line with expectations. But the first-half results will contain a £1m charge linked to the closure of its Australian wireless infrastructure operation and a US semiconductor sales office. With that and the loss of the handsets business, Filtronic may post an interim operating loss.
*ARM Holdings, the chip designer, will be under pressure to show it has managed to turn round flagging licence sales when it reports full-year results. The company, whose chip designs are used for devices, such as mobile phones and iPods, was forced to lower annual forecasts twice in the past six months owing to weak licensing. Consensus forecasts are for pre-tax profit of £78.7m on revenues of £230.9m for the 2005.
*British Sky Broadcasting, the satellite television group that will be releasing its second-quarter results, announced at the end of last year that it had reached the 8m target subscriber figure. Analysts expect the net additional subscribers during the quarter to December to total about 180,000, with churn at about 10.8 per cent. Investors will also be looking for further guidance on how Easynet, the broadband group BSkyB bought for £211m, will add value.
*AstraZeneca's results, which are predicted to be in line with expectations, should have a settling effect on investors, due to strong sales of heartburn treatment Nexium, as well as cost cutting and a share buy-back programme. Earnings per share are expected to be about $2.90, up by more than 30 per cent, hitting the group's earlier guidance of between $2.85 to $2.95. Sales are predicted to be just under $24bn (£13.5bn). But in his first set of results as chief executive, David Brennan, is likely to face questions about where future growth will come from in the face of a dwindling pipeline and theprospect of generic competition to some of its starperformers.
*Royal Dutch Shell will unveil its fourth-quarter and full-year results, which promises to be as high-profile an event as ever. At the end of last year, the group pledged to spend an extra $4bn (£2.2bn) a year on finding new reserves of oil and gas, in part, to replace those Shell had previously overstated. The market will be eager to hear the latest news on where Shell's reserves stand and where it thinks the best prospects are for new oil discoveries. Shell is likely to be asked about the progress of its mammoth Sakhalin project in the far east of Russia, which the company last year admitted was running late and over-budget. The group is also expected to update the market on the status of the Mars platform in the Gulf of Mexico, which was shut down by hurricanes last year.

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