3 FTSE Shares For The Week Ahead: Barratt Developments Plc, Associated British Foods plc And Experian plc

Company news is starting to flow again after the summer dry spell, with a lot of results from our biggest companies expected nearer the end of the month. For next week, we don’t have any actual results, but we should be getting updates from a few important firms. We take a look at what’s in store from two FTSE 100 firms, and from one that’s just outside the top flight:

Barratt, Wednesday

Housebuilder Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV) is due to bring us a trading update on Wednesday, at a time when the UK’s housebuilders are doing well — Barratt itself has seen its shares more than double over the past 12 months to 335p.

So, what should we be expecting? Well, in May the firm told us that year-to-date private reservations were up 9.7% on a year ago, and that had been boosted to an 18% rise since the Government’s Help to Buy scheme was announced. Barratt told us it expects to approve the purchase of 17,000 plots over the full year, up 40%, and that net debt at year-end should be down from £168m to £100m.

Forecasts suggest a rise in earnings per share of about 75%, giving us a P/E multiple of 24, but if expectations for 2014 turn out to be accurate, that should drop to about 15. Full-year results are expected on 11 September.

Associated British Foods, Thursday

We’re due a third-quarter interim statement from Associated British Foods (LSE: ABF) on Thursday. After years of earnings and dividend rises, we have another double-digit rise in earnings per share (EPS) forecast for the year to September.

And if first-half results, released in April, are anything to go by, that could be in the bag. With revenue up 10%, adjusted pre-tax profit rose by 25% to £452m and adjusted EPS was up 22% to 41.9p — and the dividend was lifted by 10% to 9.35p per share.

Despite a fall from a May high of 2,044p, a recent rebound has left the firm’s shares up around 45% over the past 12 months, to 1,850p, putting them on a forward P/E of about 19.

Experian, Friday

On Friday, it will be time for a first-quarter interim statement from credit-rating and business-information agency Experian (LSE: EXPN). The year ended 31 March was pretty good, with underlying pre-tax profit up 6% to $1.2bn after revenue grew 10% to $4.7bn at constant exchange rates. That led to the firm adding a 24 cents dividend to make a total for the year of 34.76 cents, which is 9% more than the previous year.

The City is forecasting a further rise in EPS for March 2014, of around 9%, which would put the shares on a P/E of 19. That might look a bit high, but Experian is something of a “picks and shovels” company that should do well from a longer-term economic recovery.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.