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"Inter Friday" for International Consolidated Airlines and InterContinental Hotels; US non-farm payrolls to reflect vaccination programme's success

Of the two, IHG is bearing up better than IAG and both are pinning their hopes on the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out

Numis Corporation -

It’s “inter Friday” with travel-related stocks International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG), the owner of British Airways, and InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (LON:IHG) scheduled to report.

Both companies are likely to be in “putting a brave face on things” mode, with both waiting on the vaccinated cavalry to arrive and save their skins, although IAG more so than IHG.

The European Commission confirmed that the EU’s members will unconditionally accept any holidaymakers or business travellers if they have received coronavirus vaccines that have been approved by the European Medicines Agency, which has lifted sentiment towards the embattled airline but comes too late to have any effect on IAG’s first-quarter results.

UBS is forecasting first-quarter revenue of €1.1bn, in line with the consensus and way down on the €4.6bn raked in during the same period of 2020.

The Swiss bank is predicting a loss before interest and tax of €1.2bn, also in line with consensus, compared to a loss the year before of €535mln.

“The focus will be restructuring, balance sheet strength, cash burn, outlook for summer capacity and for rest of the year,” UBS said.

Due to the franchise structure of Holiday Inn owner IHG, the firm has been one of the few in the industry to continue delivering underlying profit during the pandemic, although not much is expected to have changed since the last update given most nations still have travel restrictions in place.

One potential bright spot may be internal demand from domestic travel, especially in the US, as well as growth from the Chinese market a year on from the country’s first pandemic shutdown.

Investors will also be interested in the company’s expansion plans, as well as how it hopes to bounce back once more lockdown restrictions begin to be eased further and international travel returns.

It’s the first Friday of the month so that means it is US non-farm payrolls day with economists expecting the previous month’s forecast-busting 916,000 new jobs to be topped with a reading of around 925,000.

“America’s vaccination programme and easing of local lockdowns will be helping here and economists will be looking for another strong number as evidence that the world’s largest economy is getting back on track,” said analysts at AJ Bell.

“Observers will also look for any revisions to the estimates for the prior two months. Upward revisions tend to occur when the US economy is gaining traction and the opposite when it is losing it.”

Significant announcements expected

Trading announcements: International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG), InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (LON:IHG)

Interims: Numis Corporation PLC (LON:NUM)

Economic data: UK construction PMI, US non-farm payrolls

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