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Range of large cap firms set to give markets an overview

THERE is a mixed bag of companies reporting this week, but the diverse selection will give investors plenty to digest.<br /><br />FTSE 100 software company <strong>Autonomy</strong> will post its third quarter results tomorrow, though its management have already signalled that it will be another strong performance. It said earlier this month that it expects to report revenues of $191m (&pound;117m) to $193m, comfortably ahead of the consensus of $183m. Shares in the company are already up nearly 60 per cent since the beginning of the year.<br /><br />Publisher <strong>Pearson</strong> should also please investors with its nine-month trading update tomorrow. Citigroup believes that the group&rsquo;s strong and visible growth profile, sensible capital structure and decent dividend yield are undervalued by the market, and said that it remains one of its preferred names in the media sector.<br /><br />Miners will be in the spotlight this week, with mining giant <strong>Xstrata</strong> giving its interim management statement (IMS) tomorrow and <strong>BHP Billiton</strong> delivering a production update. Investors will be eager to hear Xstrata&rsquo;s outlook after it halted its pursuit of rival Anglo America.<br /><br />Homebase and Argos owner <strong>Home Retail</strong> will present its interim results on Wednesday and analysts at UBS will be focusing on the threat of competition from the grocers and the potential to grow sales through web-only lines. But it does not expect the management to give an idea of current trading until after the Christmas period.<br /><br />Also on Wednesday, <strong>Cadbury</strong> is due to issue its third-quarter IMS. It has been trading solidly recently but investors will be far more interested in any update on Kraft&rsquo;s bid for the chocolate maker. Numis believes that Kraft is likely to go with a hostile bid whatever the IMS looks like, which will lead to a competitive bid process. Panmure Gordon has made the situation even more intriguing with its recommendation that <strong>Unilever</strong> should launch its own bid for Cadbury.<br /><br />&ldquo;There are not many opportunities to buy such an attractive asset, and we think Unilever has the right chief executive, right organisational structure, and right balance sheet to make an audacious move into a new category,&rdquo; said analyst Graham Jones.<br /><br />High Street chain <strong>Debenhams</strong> will deliver its preliminary results for the year to August 2009 on Thursday. Citigroup forecasts a pre-tax profit of &pound;124m, while Numis estimates &pound;126m.<br /><br />&ldquo;We look for an update on the space transition programme, further guidance on 2010 numbers (particularly around the cost lines), an update on current trading which should have improved from the -6 per cent Q4 run-rate, and would expect the company to announce it has bought back more debt with some of its excess cash,&rdquo; said Numis.<br /><br /><strong>BSkyB</strong> ends the week on Friday with its first-quarter 2010 results, and analysts will be looking for High Definition customer additions and higher earnings in the period and revenue growth from PayTV.