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Hans Hess, CEO of Leica Geosystems, shows off one of his company's hand-held distance measuring devices: Leica is expected to report results this week

(Keystone Archive)

Traders are expecting a busy week with a clutch of corporate numbers and the all-important unemployment data for January scheduled for release.

Swiss Re will hold its investors day Wednesday, when it invites investors, analysts and journalists to meet the board.

Visitors to the Rüschlikon headquarters in canton Zurich will not only hear the latest news on Swiss Re's productivity improvement programme but also get the chance to attend workshops on the re-insurers' business in the afternoon.

Results are expected this week from surveying to mapping equipment maker Leica Geosystems.

Analysts are expecting net profit to rise more than 50 per cent at the group over the next two years. Sales for last year are forecast to have increased by around 15 to 20 per cent, with the group reaping the benefits of a number of acquisitions.

The company was only launched on the Swiss stock market last July, but since then its shares have put in a good performance trading around SFr540-550 per share after a launch price of SFr400.

Among other companies releasing their annual figures will be the clinical laboratory testing group, Unilabs. Analysts are forecasting a 20 per cent improvement in earnings over last year, with sales up by between 20 and 25 per cent over the same period.

Last year Unilabs was among the strongest performers on the Swiss Stock Exchange. Shares rose from around SFr500 at the start of 2000 to above SFr1500 by the end of the year.

Analysts say an increased focus on domestic business has made the company a more interesting investment.

One company which is not expected to post such a strong performance is the car component to textile machinery maker, Rieter. Sales and net profit over 2000 are both expected to increase by aout 10 per cent.

The outlook for the company's car components business looks bleaker as US car manufacturers scale back production levels.

On the economics front, unemployment data for January will be released on Wednesday. In December, the unemployment rate stood at 1.9 per cent, and economists are not expecting much change for the first month of the year.

by Tom O'Brien

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