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Go-Ahead will return to fast lane
Operator Go-Ahead is due to issue a trading update on Thursday (Go-Ahead Group/PA)
Bus and train operator Go-Ahead's focus on the affluent south-east will underpin resilient growth in passenger numbers when it issues a trading update on Thursday.
Newcastle-based Go-Ahead has seen its shares fall nearly a third over the past year but its last update to the market described trading as solid as it benefited from its focus on the south-east and urban areas where the jobs market has remained stronger. Bus revenues increased 4% in the first four months of 2012.
The company is one of the UK's largest operators with a fleet of around 3,900 buses carrying on average around 1.7 million passengers every day. It is the biggest operator in London and has secured two contracts to provide specific Olympic services this summer.
Meanwhile, its train companies, Southern, Southeastern and London Midland, showed strong growth in revenues. Both sections of the business have benefited from the rise in petrol prices, which have forced people out of their cars and onto public transport.
There is uncertainty about the future of its rail division, which it runs as a joint venture with Keolis, because its contracts are coming up for renewal over the next few years, although it has been shortlisted for the new Thameslink contract.
The City expects underlying profits to fall 4% to £110.7 million in the year to the end of July as it margins come under pressure.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday one of the UK's biggest defence firms will update on a torrid six months that has been disrupted by government budget cuts.
Chemring has seen its share price halve to £600 million over the past year after it issued a profits warning and said it would be hit by weaker defence spending and delays to orders. The Hampshire-based company is best known for developing missile-avoidance equipment used in the Joint Strike Fighter.
Analysts fear the company, which employs 4,000 people, is facing a tough time as Nato forces are gradually withdrawn from Afghanistan, while the United States - the world's biggest military spender - has capped spending in 2012. It is trying to sell more products to emerging economies such as Brazil and India.
It recently sold its marine division, which makes pyrotechnic distress signals, for £32 million to pay down debt and cut pension liabilities. Pre-tax profits for the full-year to the end of October are expected to rise 6% to £133.7 million, on sales up 9% to £809 million, but forecasts have been downgraded in recent months.
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