The coming week, which will be another four-day affair due to the Easter Bank Holiday, is looking a little light in terms of company news, however, there will be results and updates from some recognisable names including ASOS, Ladbrokes owner Entain and over-50s holidays and insurance firm Saga.
Meanwhile, the macro diary is looking a little bare, although investors may be interested in UK PMI data on Wednesday and Thursday as well as the US PPI on Friday.
Homeserve to fix up trading update
In the half-year report published in November, the firm raised its interim dividend and said it had exited the first COVID-19 lockdown well, while the latest restrictions would make “no fundamental difference”.
It also said full-year profits would come slightly ahead of current consensus estimates of £186.2mln, so the market will want to hear whether that’s confirmed.
Saga and Hilton Food the yin and yang of lockdown
On Wednesday Hilton Food Group PLC (LON:HFG) should publish a strong set of full-year numbers.
A January update was bullish, helped by a growing contribution from Australia and the Nordics, and this came after September’s beefed-up interim dividend as lockdown restrictions herded higher demand from supermarkets, while a 50% stake in Netherland-based Dalco Food offers a plant-based foot in the meat substitutes market.
The company, which packs all of Tesco’s red meat, has opened a new facility in Belgium, with another due to start in New Zealand later this year.
Profits for 2020 are forecast to have grown 11%, according to broker Peel Hunt, where analysts noted that management are exploring opportunities in both domestic and overseas markets.
The outlook will be an important indicator of how Hilton expects the mix of opening up in the UK and ongoing lockdowns in Europe will affect demand.
Meanwhile, Saga PLC (LON:SAGA), the insurance and holidays specialist serving the over-50s market, negotiated some additional breathing space on its lending arrangements last month as its holiday business was devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The conclusion of the refinancing talks was “the latest step in reinforcing Saga's financial position,” said boss Euan Sutherland.
He said the group was seeing “strong pent-up demand for travel among our customers and remain well placed to deliver on this opportunity when the guidance on international travel changes”.
The government guidance indicates there is unlikely to be any trips abroad until the end of the summer at the earliest.
Saga’s debt covenants are likely to remain tight, said Peel Hunt, but said these have been stress-tested by the company and it is apparently comfortable with its headroom.
“The key issue is a late 2021 restart of the Travel business,” the analysts added, with Wednesday’s preliminary results unlikely to definitively resolve anything.
Entain to update on trading amid shopping spree
The sports betting and gaming entertainment group has entered four new regulated European markets, bringing the total to 27 countries globally.
The firm plans to have 100% revenue coming from fully regulated markets by 2023.
Investors are keen to hear on existing operations alongside expansion plans, as well as guidance on trading across its markets, which are subject to a mix of restrictions.
ASOS takes to the results catwalk
In a trading update for the four months to December 31, the retailer reported a 24% jump in sales, so with shops remaining shuttered in the first months of 2021 investors will be hoping the performance has continued over the rest of the half-year period.
However, with the UK’s restrictions starting to ease as the pandemic subsides, shareholders will be looking for any commentary on how the company expects to perform in the post-COVID environment as competition from physical retail stores returns.
Also in focus will be the integration of the assets ASOS snapped up from the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire, having already flagged £20mln in costs which will eat into profits in its current year.
Dunelm eyed for outlook ahead of reopening
The company warned in February that sales in the quarter were being affected by the UK’s lockdown measures, so with measures now being relaxed shareholders will be hoping for a more upbeat assessment of the months ahead when its stores are allowed to reopen.
However, the group’s digital sales have been performing strongly during the pandemic, so the firm will be hoping to retain a chunk of this new business in a bid to boost its performance once its store trading resumes.
The focus will continue to be on the pandemic and the pace of vaccination around the world in the coming week, while the UK government’s review into the possibility of vaccine passports is expected to be updated too.
Economic data includes more purchasing managers’ index surveys, including the services sector on Wednesday.
For the US there’s some macro data grist to the market’s mill every day of the week, with the ISM non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index on Monday, through the JOLTS jobs survey, oil inventories, PMIs and factory gate inflation figures.
There will also be plenty of attention on the minutes of the European Central Bank’s last monetary policy meeting, while the Australian equivalent will also be announcing their latest policy decision.
In Brexit news, the European Commission is expected to respond in the coming week after the UK delivered its roadmap on the Northern Ireland protocol.
Significant announcements expected for week ending 9 April:
Monday April 5:
Easter Monday, UK market closed
Economic data: US PMIs
Tuesday April 6:
Trading announcements: Homeserve PLC (LON:HSV)
Economic data: US consumer inflation expectations
Wednesday April 7:
Economic data: UK services PMI, US trade balance, US Fed minutes
Thursday April 8:
FTSE 100 ex-dividends to knock 3.96 points off the index: Aviva PLC (LON:AV.), DS Smith PLC (LON:SMDS), Smurfit Kappa Group plc (LON:SKG), Mondi PLC (LON:MNDI), Rentokil Initial PLC (LON:RTO), Smiths Group PLC (LON:SMIN)
Economic data: UK construction PMI, US jobless claims,
Friday April 9:
Economic data: UK house prices, US PPI