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Royal Mail shares hit by union's legal challenge ahead of results

William Hill, Severn Trent and Centrica are also among those reporting on Thursday

The Sage Group plc -

Ahead of the general election, polls are also a key theme at Royal Mail PLC (LON:RMG) as it reports half-year results on Thursday.

Investors are likely to be more focused on the coming festive period and political events than the letters and parcel company’s operating performance in the previous six months.

On this front, Royal Mail recently celebrated a High Court court victory to block the proposed strike action by staff over Christmas due to “potential irregularities” in the Communication and Workers Union’s balloting procedure.

Shares in the group were down 2% to 227.8p a day ahead of the numbers as the CWU lodged an appeal against the injunction with the same court.

This will keep the tensions ramped up ahead of what is the company's most important time of year, with an election as well and Christmas rush.

It will form another line of inquiry on which boss Rico Back will be quizzed, as well as whether the delivery group can stick to its forecast of a 5%-7% decline in letter volumes this year, as well as on progress on the five-year turnaround plan to focus more on parcels, international business and cutting costs.

There isn’t much confidence around, with shares in the postal carrier having lost a quarter of their value since hitting year-highs of 300p in January.

William Hill bets on US

In William Hill PLC's (LON:WMH) trading statement, analysts and investors are waiting to hear on its progress in the US. 

At the half-year stage the bookie said it had gained a 27% market share in the seven states in which it operates, a number that is now up to 10.

Trading on this side of the Atlantic will not be as rosy after the board announce the closure of 700 UK shops following the imposition of a £2 staking limit on high street gaming machines.

However, analysts believe the new cap may not have been as damaging as initially thought, while the shop closures could protect profits despite denting revenues.

Severn Trent not expected to follow the positive flow

A day after fellow water company United Utilities, Severn Trent PLC (LON:SVT) publishes is own interims, though for the sector as a whole remains somewhat overshadowed by the upcoming general election due to Labour's re-nationalisation plans.

While United Utilities reported a 6.5% increase in underlying operating profit, Deutsche Bank analysts forecast a “single-digit earnings drop” from Severn Trent.

The analysts expect Severn’s revenues to be down mostly because of broadly flat water profits, due to weather effects and property gains not matching the year before.

Thursday 21 November

Interims: Royal Mail Group PLC (LON:RMG), Severn Trent PLC (LON:SVT), Charles Stanley Group PLC (LON:CAY), CMC Markets Plc (LON:CMCX), Countryside Properties PLC (LON:CSP), First Property Group PLC (LON:FPO), Helical PLC (LON:HLCL), iEnergizer Ltd (LON:IBPO), JLEN Environmental Assets Group Ltd (LON:JLEN), Manolete Partners PLC (LON:MANO), Mitie Group PLC (LON:MTO), NewRiver REIT plc (LON:NRR), Syncona (SYNC)

FinalsEuromoney Institutional Investor PLC (LON:ERM), Residential Secure Income PLC (LON:RESI)

Trading statementsWilliam Hill PLC (LON:WMH), Centrica PLC (LON:CNA), Close Brothers Group PLC (LON:CBG), Hill & Smith Holdings PLC (LON:HILS), TT Electronics plc (LON:TTG)

AGMs: Avation (LON:AVAP)

FTSE 100 ex-divsCarnival PLC (LON:CCL), DCC PLC (LON:DCC), Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB), Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust PLC (LON:SMT)

Economic announcements: UK public sector borrowing, US existing homes sales data, US jobless

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