Morrisons in the spotlight as discounters are seeing a slowdown

The supermarket is the likely standouts in Thursday's market diary.

Morrisons releases its interim results

First-half sales at Morrisons are forecast to grow amid signs of easing competitive pressures.

Competition from discount grocers Aldi and Lidl led to a price war between the so-called ‘Big Four’ supermarkets. But analysts have noted that store expansion and sales growth at the discounters have slowed recently.

Morrisons reports its interim results on Thursday with analysts expecting higher revenues and improved margins. Areas of focus will be cost on cutting measures and the performance of wholesale sales following deals with Amazon and the McColl’s convenience store chain.

UBS analysts said they believe the scale of Morrisons' cost-saving opportunity is under-appreciated and, with discounter space growth and like-for-like (LfL) sales both slowing, its pressure to reinvest is easing.

They predict Morrison’s reporting first-half like-for-like sales growth of 5.5%, with underlying earnings (EBIT) of £235mln, pre-tax profit at £203mln, and a margin of 2.69%, up 15 basis points year-on-year.

Significant events expected on Thursday September 13:

BoE and ECB interest rate decisions

Interims: Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC), Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN), Gresham House Plc (LON:GHE), Ophir Energy Plc (LON:OPHR), Oxford Biomedica PLC (LON:OXB), Safe Charge International Group Limited (LON:SCH), Xeros Technology Group PLC (LON:XSG)

Finals: Ricardo plc (LON:RCDO)

Ex-dividends: To clip 0.26 points off FTSE 100 stocks - Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRO)

Economic data: US consumer price index; US weekly jobless claims

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