Monday, May 17, 2010

Banks gain the limelight in UK

Trading updates and annual meetings make banks the centre of attraction in UK this week along with first quarter figures from Prudential, the insurance giant being watched. Lloyds Banking Group will also face shareholders at its annual general meeting along with firms delivering their first quarter results.

Pirc – a research and advisory consultancy that provides services to institutional investors – has warned the combined level of performance-related pay during 2009 was “excessive” and is recommending opposition against the Lloyds remuneration report at the meeting.

Barclays likewise attracted ire from Pirc ahead of its AGM. It’s first quarter performance – with profits up 90% on an underlying basis to £1.82 billion. On Friday, HSBC reports its figures amid expectations for further improvements in its bad debt charges.

“Given Next’s track record of meeting/beating guidance, we would expect them to deliver on this, driving an increase in our (full year) pre-tax profits forecast to £537 million,” analysts at Numis Securities said. The group posted pre-tax profits of £505m (€579m) in the 12 months to January, up on the £428.8m (€492m) seen a year earlier.

Insurance giant Prudential posts first quarter figures on Wednesday at a time when it continues to be swamped by speculation of shareholder rebellion against its mammoth bid for AIG’s Asian arm.The developments come as an unwelcome distraction for Pru as it prepares for the imminent launch of a prospectus for its record-breaking $20bn (€15bn) fundraising to finance the takeover.
Prudential’s first quarter figures will confirm the growth prospects in Asia along with its Pru’s effort to gain support for its deals.