Friday’s corporate calendar is very quiet, but if one of the things we’ve learnt to expect during the coronavirus outbreak is that every day will bring at least one ditched dividend and a not-altogether-surprising profit warning of some sort.
On a more grim note, the US is on course to overtake Italy and Spain in the number of daily coronavirus cases, becoming the world’s worst-affected country as China’s numbers are contained and Italy’s growth rate starts to slow.
The US House of Representatives, however, is set to vote on the US$2trn fiscal package to support the country’s people and companies.
Although economists at Danske Bank said it “may hit some obstacles”, it is widely expected to be rubber-stamped without any major hassle.
After the shockingly large US unemployment claims number a day earlier, there’s also spending data due Stateside.
SSE’s dividend promise under pressure?
Among London-listed companies, renewable energy supplier SSE is due to publish a pre-close trading statement.
In January, the FTSE 100 group reiterated its commitment to its dividend plan for the next five years, with a dividend of 80p per share expected for the current year, down from 97.5p a year earlier.
Despite unhelpful weather conditions, renewables output was up 6% in the nine months to 31 December, which was 5% below plan.
SSE said it still expects adjusted earnings per share in the range of 83p to 88p for the year to end-March.
Earlier this week, analysts at Goldman Sachs upgraded SSE to ‘buy’ in a note on European utilities sector.
While recent coronavirus-related economic developments “imply higher risks” for stocks exposed to non-renewable energy generation assets and with lots of debt.
“We would use the recent sell-off to gain exposure to quality, secular growers, as we expect “net zero policies” to make a comeback as a tool to stimulate the economy, once the most acute part of the crisis is over.”
On SSE, Goldman said it was upgrade its recommendation as at the stock’s depressed valuation (below 1,100p at that point) “the value creation from future renewable asset disposals could imply 10%-18% upside, in addition to an >7% yield”.
Down on AIM, Irish motorway service station operator Applegreen, which owns Welcome Break, said earlier in the week that it was still planning to publish results on Friday.
“Group profitability for FY19 will be in line with consensus which was driven by solid like-for-like growth across the business, particularly in non-fuel,” the company said.
It said, all of its stores remain open, providing “an essential service in the communities in which we operate”, with measures put in place to safeguard staff and customers, while its supply chain remains fully operational.
Significant announcements that had been expected on Friday 27 March:
Economic data: US personal spending