It’s a huge week for blue chip announcements with all four of the high street banks, the UK’s two pharma giants, mining titans Anglo and BHP and restaurant to coffee chain Whitbread all updating.
BHP in sights of aggressive activist
Global miner BHP Billiton plc (LON:BLT) will unveil its latest operational review, for the nine months to March 31 on Wednesday, with the group currently in the cross-hairs of activist hedge fund manager, Elliott Advisors.
Earlier this month, Elliot called on the FTSE 100-listed firm to consider some radical moves to unlock shareholder value, including scrapping its dual-corporate, Anglo-Australian structure, demerging its oil business, and rejigging its capital return policy.
Elliot– which owns a 4.1% stake in BHP Billiton - claimed that the reforms it proposed would create 48% more value for Australian shareholders and 51% more value for London shareholders.
But in its response to the proposals, the miner said its board and management had concluded that “the costs and associated disadvantages of each element of Elliott's proposal would significantly outweigh the potential benefits.”
In its recent operational update, BHP’s blue chip peer Rio Tinto PLC (LON:RIO) cut its 2017 guidance for copper production after first quarter operations were hit by a 43-day strike at the Escondida mine in Chile.
BHP, which co-owns Escondida with Rio, cut its full year guidance on copper production in January after a drop in first half output due to the strikes.
Whitbread’s coffee cup half-full
Strong performances in its Costa Coffee and Premier Inn chains have helped to offset softer trading in its restaurant arm, which includes Beefeater and Brewer’s Faye.
In a trading update in January, the company said like-for-like sales dropped 1.5% in the restaurant arm in the 13 weeks to 1 December but rose 4.3% at Costa and 1.8% at Premier Inns.
Ahead of its full year results, Credit Suisse noted “good trading momentum” and the “strong fundamentals” of the Premier Inn network where revenue per available room in the UK is at the “best for two years”.
The bank predicts adjusted pre-tax profit of £567mln, compared to £546mln the previous year. Revenue is expected to rise to £3.1bn from £2.9bn.
AstraZeneca approaching pivotal time
All eyes will be on any news regarding that when Astra issues a trading update on Thursday, although it might be a little too early for the company to reveal much, if anything at all.
While it waits on the results from the MYSTIC study, the Anglo-Swedish pharma giant has been selling off non-core assets and doing external deals to pump some money into its research pipeline, which will likely inflate any figures in the first quarter update.
The company needs a breakthrough with one of these investigational drugs to replace top sellers – such as cholesterol treatment Crestor – which have been supplanted by cheaper generic rivals.
The slump from the loss of patents is starting to bottom out, but City folk are predicting another fall in revenues this year before they start to creep up again.
GlaxoSmithKline to look beyond Advair
One of those that has been hit is its asthma drug Advair which is expected to continue its steady decline when GSK publishes its first quarter update on Wednesday.
City broker Jefferies has pencilled in a 5% drop off in Advair sales to £719mln, reflecting ongoing pricing pressures.
GSK’s smoking-related lung damage treatment Breo is tipped to show “significant progress” with sales forecast to almost double to £211mln or so.
Analysts are expecting some currency tailwinds to plump up the overall numbers a bit though, with group revenue tipped to grow around 16% to £7.23bn.
Adjusted earnings per share are forecast to come in at 25.5p, according to City brokers.
Monday 24 April - Anglo American
Tuesday 25 April - Whitbread
Interims: Apax Global Alpha Ltd (LON:APAX)
Final Result: Havelock Europa plc (LON:HVE); Optibiotix Health Plc (LON:OPTI); Circassia Pharmaceuticals Plc (LON:CIR); Whitbread plc (LON:WTB): Minds + Machines Group Ltd (LON:MMX); Redstoneconnect Plc (LON: REDS)
AGM/EGM: Elementis PLC (LON:ELM); Entu UK Plc (LON:ENTU); Metro Bank PLC (LON:MTRO); Premier Energy & Water Trust plc (LON:PEW); Romgaz (LON:SNGR); Aggreko PLC (LON:AGK); Hammerson PLC (LON:HMSO); Axis Bank Ltd (LON:AXBA)
Wednesday 26 April - BHP Billiton, GlaxoSmithKline
AGM / EGM: Greencoat UK Wind Plc (LON:UKW); Tullow Oil plc (LON:TLW); Telit Communications Plc (LON:TCM); Primary Health Properties PLC (LON:PHP); Glanbia plc (LON:GLB); Henderson Group PLC (LON:HGG); Devro PLC (LON:DVO); Admiral Group PLC (LON:ADM)
Thursday 27 April - Lloyds, Taylor Wimpey, Astra Zeneca
Trading Statement: Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.); Weir Group PLC (LON:WEIR); Travis Perkins PLC (LON:TPK); Schroders PLC (LON:SDR); Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN); Kaz Minerals PLC (LON:KAZ); Cobham PLC (LON:COB); Berendsen PLC (LON:BRSN); AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN); Aggreko PLC (LON:AGK);
Meggitt plc (LON:MGGT); Greka Drilling (LON:GDL); Howden Joinery Group PLC (LON:HWDN); Lloyds Banking Group PLC ORD (LON:LLOY)
AGM / EGM: DP World Limited (LON:DPW); 27Countrywide Plc (LON:CWD); AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN); Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group PLC (LON:JLT); LSL Property Services PLC (LON:LSL); Minoan Group plc (LON:MIN); Global Invacom Group(LON:GINV)