AGENDA - Results season comes round

On 28 September, the last two major results from smaller media companies will be seen. Maiden will announce interim results and Centaur maiden finals – if you see what I mean.

With Maiden there will be a balancing act to be struck between publicly popping the champagne corks in celebration of retaining the Network Rail franchise – any subsequent losses to competitors pale into insignificance against retaining the big one.

Offsetting this will be the sober assessment of the day-today impact of the new terms.

With outdoor headlines suggesting a buoyant market place for the moment, which should boost Maiden's forecasts, it will be tough for Maiden to convince the market that any downgrade is for the right reason.

With the shares losing all of the immediate value they picked up after the big contract win, investors do seem to be pricing in some form of downgrade.

With Centaur, these will be the first set of results since the accelerated IPO that so enraged the Incisive Board. Centaur’s shares have fallen from the IPO launch price – the launch coinciding with this year’s media market peak.

Graham Sherren has to convince his new shareholders that, through a combination of market growth and improvements to operating efficiency, the potential for profit growth is as real as the pre-launch talk suggested.

Though many in the market might like the company to miss its forecasts, in reality the sector overall is only ever damaged in such circumstances. But this is a market that is not currently very forgiving to companies that only just make the grade.

Malcolm Morgan is a media analyst at Investec

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