If competitors cannot find anything to celebrate about Tesco's forthcoming interims (out September 19), their one consolation might be that the announcement is overshadowed by the fuel crisis. Tesco is widely expected to report 3-4% like for like sales growth and profits around the £420m mark for the six months to August 31. Tesco will relish the opportunity to say "I told you so" 15 months after Wal-Mart arrived promising to make Asda number one. "Tesco is really going from strength to strength," said Richard Perks at Retail Intelligence. "It's put in a solid performance on all fronts, and it's still holding its margins." Another analyst observed: "Yes it's going to be dull, but then success is dull and predictable." Reports of steady progress in its overseas operations, which will account for almost half of Tesco's selling space by 2002, are also on the cards, said Dave McCarthy at Salomon Schroder Smith Barney. Even if the rumours about Malaysian chains Tops and Parksons lack substance (see page 15), Tesco has made it clear a Malaysian chain is on the shopping list after 18 months of research. "Tesco puts in the groundwork before it moves into new territories," McCarthy added. Rumours that Tesco is circling around Woolworth's, Australia's biggest supermarket chain, have less substance than the Asian rumblings, suggested one analyst. "I'd be amazed if they said anything about that on Tuesday, but it would certainly make sense in the long term. "My feeling is that Tesco ought to build a strong alliance with a continental counterpart like Ahold or Carrefour." {{NEWS }}