The week ahead

It may be August, but there is still plenty of news-flow in terms of company updates.

On Monday insurer Prudential reports first-half figures. This follows on from a busy time last week for the sector, when Thursday saw Standard LifeSchroders and Aviva report numbers. There were mixed fortunes for these three, with Aviva doing well chiefly because investors have come to be quite nervous about this company and its long turnaround programme. The shares pushed higher, helping to recover ground lost after it cut the dividend earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, Standard Life and Schroders came off worse on the day, but given the strong run, especially of the latter, this was to be expected. Prudential has also enjoyed a good year, up 36% year-to-date.

Prudential plc chart


Recruitment firm Michael Page takes the stage on Tuesday, after a recent update that suggested the company faces a difficult quarter. Continued weakness in Europe is a worry, as is a growing set of problems in its Australian division. Credit Suisse has been rather downbeat on the company, arguing that challenging markets in a number of countries will mean that recruitment activity will remain low, although at least activity in the UK is picking up.

Michael Page International plc chart


Balfour Beatty updates the market on Wednesday, with the construction company looking to continue its clever trick of winning new contracts while simultaneously cutting back on its superfluous regional offices. One of the key attractions of Balfour Beatty remains its dividend yield, with a yield of over 5% providing almost irresistible for some.

Balfour Beatty plc chart


Shareholders in Eurasian Natural Resources Corp (ENRC) will be eagerly awaiting its first-half figures on Wednesday, although the approaching deadline on the offer to take the company private may be a more pressing concern. Many shareholders consider that the offer, valuing the company at about 231p per share, is too low, given that the founders may initiate sales of parts of the company’s international operations and thereby gain extra income. However, with the shares currently around 225p it does not look as if a major rally is in the offing.

ENRC chart

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