These are profitable times but there are questions about just where the future growth is going to come from With no results out over the last month, there's been nothing too dramatic to report among our manufacturing companies with all of them showing some positive movement except Unilever, which was down 31p over the month. David Hallam at Williams de Broë said the firm had disappointed the City following a pre-closed season conference call last week when it announced a slower rate of top line growth. He said: "I think it's a bit of a red herring because underlying growth is still 1%-2%. I'm not too concerned and see the shares as a buying opportunity." Meanwhile, he said confidence was high over Northern Foods' fourth quarter results following pre-closed season conversations, while Cadbury Schweppes had been quiet apart from its acquisition of US soft drinks firm Nantucket Nectars which, although not particularly significant, would mean it could use its marketing expertise to make cost savings. AB Foods' annual results are due in the next couple of weeks and Hallam expected to see a 6% rise in profit. On the retail side, Tesco's results are due out next week and the City expects pre-tax profit around the £1.22bn mark ­ a steady rise on last year. Dave Stoddart of Teather & Greenwood said there was no sign of a slowdown. "There's always a chance of a hiccup in their overseas expansion but no reason to expect it." He said Safeway wasn't doing as badly as recent market share figures had suggested and that Sainsbury was doing better but added: "How much better can they get? You wonder where any future growth will come from." The same was true of Somerfield to an extent. Said Stoddart: "How far can their recovery go? Management has got a grip on it, but the portfolio of stores can only generate so much revenue." Morrisons had moved quickly to sort out management succession after the death of md John Dowd and its recent results had been very strong as a result of the chain sticking to what it did best. "It's the simplest philosophy and there's no reason to think they'll stop doing as well." {{MISCELLANEOUS }}