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BSkyB figures to show slower HD uptake after Olympics boom

BSKYB'S quarterly figures are likely to show that its drive for high definition (HD) customers slowed after a boom over the summer fuelled by Olympics Games viewing.

Experts at Numis predict that prices hikes, including a rise of £1 for its Sky Sports package and £1.50 for its Sky Entertainment package, will have helped the group grow revenues.

Numis expects the move to have pushed revenues up 4.2% in the second quarter and predicts the group will post first-half revenues of £3.5 billion.

The City will also be watching closely to see if Sky and rival BT overpaid in their £3 billion Premier League deal.

Meanwhile, BT is expected to show progress in its march for a bigger share of the broadband market when it reports third-quarter figures on Friday.

The group added 81,000 retail broadband customers, nearly half of net additions across the whole market, in the previous quarter to September 30.

The group is investing £2.5bn on rolling out super-fast broadband to two-thirds of the UK by the end of spring 2014.

But this will not stop revenues declining, as its global services business battles the economic woes in southern Europe.

City experts predict revenues will fall 6.1% to £4.5bn in its third quarter, compared to a 5% fall in the same period last year.

Smirnoff and Guinness owner Diageo is expected to toast another strong performance in emerging markets when it reports on Thursday.

Analysts predict sales will have grown 5.2% to £6bn in its first half. The half-year result will be slightly ahead of its first quarter, when sales were 5%, but will be down from a 7% jump in the same period last year.

Experts at Oriel Securities, which is pencilling in a 5.3% jump, predict sales will be driven by double-digit growth in emerging markets, with strong beer sales in Africa and a thirst for Scotch in Latin America. But the debt-ridden southern eurozone markets will continue to suffer, along with the UK market.

The continued strength of Brent crude in commodity markets is expected to narrow recent falls in profits at oil giant Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday.

Experts predict fourth- quarter profits will be 3% lower at $6.3bn (£4bn), down from $6.5bn (£4.1bn) in the same period last year. Lower oil and gas prices and pressure on margins in chemicals resulted in a fall in profits to $6.13bn (£3.8bn) in the three months to September 30, although this beat the previous quarter.

A continuing programme of shop revamps is expected to help floor-coverings retailer Carpetright continue on the road to recovery when it updates the City on Tuesday.

John Stevenson, analyst at Peel Hunt, said the store revamp was providing "clear impetus", with the new look helping push sales at each refurbished store up 10%.

UK like-for-like sales in the first half of the financial year were 0.7% ahead, or 3% excluding its wholesale business.

Gaming operator Rank's expected half-year profits growth on Thursday will be overshadowed by the wait to see if a deal to take over Gala casinos is given the green light.

The group has been warned by the Competition Commission it may have to sell several UK casinos before a merger deal with rival Gala can go ahead.

In its first quarter, Maidenhead-based Rank unveiled a 5% like-for-like rise in sales, driven by 8% growth at Grosvenor Casinos and a 2% rise at Mecca.

But Simon French, analyst at Panmure Gordon, is predicting the group will see pre-tax profits rise 5% to £34 million on Thursday, slower than the 8% rise in pre-tax profits to £32.4 million in the same period last year.

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