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The business outlook

The corporate results season is beginning, with several companies coming through with numbers this week. Chief among them is the plastics and chemicals producer Lonza.

Lonza presents its full year figures for 2000 on Tuesday.

Analysts expect an increase in net profit of 26 per cent on the back of last year's economic recovery. However, the outlook for the current year though is less impressive, with net profit expected to grow 14 per cent.

The company 's stock has shown an impressive performance since last October and has not been hit by recent stock market volatility.

With a market capitalisation of SFr5.6 billion, many experts think Lonza may be targeted for a takeover this year, although prospective predators are keeping their cards close to their chest.

Another chemicals company, Clariant, is reporting sales figures this week.

Thursday's numbers are expected reveal growth of 16 per cent. The figure is all the more impressive given the fact that the chemicals market was hit by the strong dollar and rising commodity prices last year.

The pharmaceuticals company, Serono, publishes its sales figures on Tuesday. They are expected to show growth of between 10 and 15 per cent.

Serono's performance has been enhanced by its leading brand of fertility drugs.

Its stock price, however, has suffered recently from profit taking and the price will probably consolidate at current levels.

Other companies reporting this week include the maker of dental implants, Straussmann Holding. Forecasts are for a net profit for the year of around 35 million francs.

Logitech, the maker of computer tools and accessories, announces third quarter figures on Tuesday.

The retail company, Voegele, is also releasing its sales figures for 2000, and has already warned the markets not to expect too much. It said the unseasonably warm weather in December had discouraged people from buying winter clothes.

by Michael Hollingdale


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