Bond's return to help Cineworld hit its targets

RISING energy bills and the battle for supermarket and mobile phone customers will be in the spotlight with figures from SSE, Vodafone and Sainsbury’s.

RISING energy bills and the battle for supermarket and mobile phone customers will be in the spotlight with figures from SSE, Vodafone and Sainsbury’s.

The heat will be on energy giant SSE on Wednesday when it reveals how much money it is making for the first time since a winter price hike.

SSE, formally known as Scottish & Southern Energy, recently increased prices by an average of 9% in a move which will affect five million electricity customers and 3.4 million gas customers.

Customers will be looking at interim results closely amid anger that firms are leaving customers out in the cold while they continue to turn in huge profits.

But the energy companies have blamed the rises on wholesale prices and increased running costs, especially for transporting gas and electricity to customers’ homes, plus the cost of energy efficiency programmes.

In May, SSE posted a 2% rise in annual profits to £1.3bn but the surplus from domestic operations was down 21% to £271.7m as it battled higher costs and falling consumption.

SSE was the first of the “big six” energy companies to increase prices, but it was followed by all the other major suppliers apart from E.ON which made a promise not to raise tariffs this year.

Investors will also be watching to see if the unseasonably chilly autumn has boosted consumption.

British Gas owner Centrica will also be in the spotlight on Thursday, having announced it will increase its prices by an average of 6% on November 16.

The UK’s biggest energy supplier, which is due to post a trading update, came under fire in July for making residential operating profits of £345m in the space of six months, equivalent to £1.9m a day.

Vodafone investors will find out tomorrow if an initiative to keep UK customers until the widespread roll out of 4G technology has struck a chord.

It comes after a year which has seen revenues fall as the mobile phone giant loses ground to rivals offering unlimited deals.

Vodafone will have to wait until the spring to launch its 4G products after EE, formally known as Everything Everywhere, got the go-ahead to offer services on the network, which has speeds up to five times faster than 3G.

The City expects revenues in its interim results tomorrow will be £21.8bn, down from £23.5bn for the same period last year, while underlying profit will fall from £7.5bn to £6.8bn.

Paralympics sponsorship and investment in cheaper own-brand products has helped supermarket Sainsbury’s take market share from rivals Tesco and Morrisons.

The country’s third-largest grocer was the star performer in recent data from researcher Kantar as its share of the market jumped to 16.8% while Tesco and Morrisons saw their positions weaken.

And it is expected to build on its strong run in half-year results on Wednesday when it unveils a 5% rise in underlying pre-tax profits in the six months to £371m.

Finally, the return of the world’s most famous spy to UK cinemas should have given Cineworld a boost in figures due to be posted tomorrow.

Skyfall secured the biggest seven-day gross takings of all time in the UK of £37.2m, overtaking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’s first-week figure of £35.7m, according to entertainment website Deadline.

Hopes for the Bond movie and the release of the final instalment of the vampire romance Twilight and The Hobbit, come after the group saw box office admissions drop 0.8% in the 26 weeks to June 28.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer