There's FTSE 100 Christmas trading news heading our way.
As the New Year unfolds, the big question everyone wants answered is how well did the Christmas trading season go. For some companies, it can make the difference between a good and a poor year, while for others it can even be make or break. It's still early days, but we already have a few FTSE 100 (UKX) trading updates coming our way next week:
The big one is Tesco (LSE: TSCO), which is due to give us a Christmas trading statement on Thursday. Weak pre-Christmas sales last year led to the well-known slump in Tesco shares, from 410p to the 310p level, then a subsequent slide to below 330p, for an overall fall of more than 25%.
Some, like ace US investor Warren Buffett, didn't see any cause for panic, and instead took the opportunity to top up his holding at a lower price. And since then, the shares have crept back to 349p.
What of this year? At the third-quarter stage, Tesco told us that it was making good progress in its plans to improve its overall shopping experience, and that it had "refreshed nearly 300 stores" and "upgraded or introduced well over 3,000 products".
Competing supermarket J Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY) will release a third-quarter trading statement, which should take us up to the end of December, a day before Tesco, on Wednesday.
Sainsbury shares have done rather better this year, putting on a strong rise in the second half to reach a peak of around 360p in October, although the price has fallen back a bit since then, currently standing at 333p.
Sainsbury's last update, a half-year report on 14 November, told us of a 4% rise in total sales and a 5.4% rise in underlying pre-tax profit.
Marks & Spencer
That other famous high-street name following a transformation plan, Marks & Spencer (LSE: MKS), should be providing a third-quarter interim statement on Thursday. The M&S share price had a strange ride in 2012, with a sharp rise to the and of March, followed by an equally sharp fall taking it all the way back by mid-July. Since then, it has been on the up again, and at 377p now it's more than 20% up over the past 12 months.
At the time of the company's first-half report, released on 6 November, total revenues were up a modest 0.9%, though that was lifted by a 3.6% rise in international revenue -- the UK was up only 0.6%. Underlying pre-tax profit, at £297 million, was down a little.
But what was encouraging is that the second quarter was quite a bit stronger than the first, showing a 2.5% overall gain in revenue. The figures from Q3 will be keenly awaited.
Moving outside the seasonal retail business, Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW) will give us a trading statement and operational update on Friday. The share price slid in December, a month in which the firm announced the acquisition of Norwegian explorer Spring Energy for an amount that could be as high as $672 million (based on a core price of $372 million plus conditional bonus payments of up to $300 million), and told us it is offloading some of its North Sea assets.
This appears to be a move towards more speculative -- and therefore higher-risk -- prospects, which may well have scared away some of the company's investors. But at 1,279p today, the Tullow share price has tripled since late 2008, so someone clearly knows what they're doing.
As a bonus, we come to FTSE 250 constituent Persimmon (LSE: PSN), which is first of the big UK housebuilders to bring us a trading update, in this case on on Tuesday -- full-year results are due in Februrary. Persimmon, which is part of the Fool's Beginners' Portfolio, has seen its share price gain more than 70% over the past 12 months as the sector is coming out of the recession strongly.
There is a rise of around 40% in earnings per share currently expected by City analysts for the year, but of perhaps more importance is Persimmon's intention of resuming decent dividend payments next year. Forecasts currently suggest a 5.5% yield, so some further news on that plan will be welcome.
Finally, the secret to becoming rich from shares is simple long-term investing in fundamentally sound companies, and letting steady growth and dividends power your wealth upwards.
That's why it's always worth keeping abreast of what news is coming our way each week, and doing some background research on promising-looking candidates.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Tesco.