Next week will be a shorter one thanks to the bank holiday weekend, although this compresses a fairly threadbare corporate news calendar from the big and mid-cap firms.
As a result, the main focus during the week is likely to be on macro news, with PMI data due across the week as well as the all-important US non-farm payrolls on Friday.
Gym Group wipes its brow following lockdown closures
Gym Group PLC (LON:GYM) is not likely to be flexing its best beach-body when half-year results are unveiled on Wednesday, with all 179 of its sites having been shut since mid-March due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Just over four months later, the chain said it was reopening 160 gyms in England on July 25, excluding two gyms in Leicester and 13 in Scotland and Wales due to local lockdowns, plus one in London undergoing refurbishment.
Its finances were bolstered, however, with a £41.3mln equity issue in April and June’s £30mln addition to its borrowing capacity, on top of an existing £70mln corporate overdraft.
The fitness group said as of July 9, it had 692,000 members against 870,000 on March 18, as a rush of cancellations in the first days after March’s closures tailed off thereafter.
Analysts at Barclays said these membership numbers are the “critical factor” in the investment case, adding that a 5% change in membership could result in a fair value fluctuation of 30%, making it “high risk”, with break-even needing a membership at 86% of the February 2020 level.
Few surprises expected from Melrose
The firm has already reported a 27% fall in revenue due to challenging conditions in both of its key aerospace and automotive sectors and that it has been loss making for its second quarter. Despite this, the company still expects to report a small underlying operating profit for the first half, so the results will show exactly how small this figure is.
The company’s outlook is also likely to be watched closely, with the ongoing disruption in the aircraft and travel sectors to weigh particularly heavily on the aerospace division. Sales in the segment are already expected to decline by 25-30% in the full year, so investors will be hoping this forecast has not worsened and whether the firm is aiming to save costs to help lift its fortunes.
A peek into the housebuilding sector
Barratt Developments PLC’s (LON:BDEV) full-year results on Tuesday and Berkeley Group Holdings PLC’s (LON:BKG) trading update on Thursday are going to shine a light on the state of the housebuilding sector, which has been resilient during the current crisis.
Nationwide’s House Price Index reported 1.5% growth in July, while Halifax showed 3.8% growth.
The industry benefitted from the cut in stamp duty, low interest rates keeping mortgages relatively affordable and supporting asset prices and pent-up demand following lockdown.
“The outlook is much more uncertain though, especially as restrictions on evictions and the furlough scheme come to an end,” said Will Ryder at Hargreaves Lansdown.
The analyst does not expect Barratt to reintroduce a dividend just yet, with profits and house completion likely to be down, though house prices may have remained resilient.
Investors will want to know how higher-end London properties are doing since Berkeley has exposure to the area, as well as how efficiently the group is managing to build while maintaining proper social distancing.
Ocado and M&S kick off delivery partnership
While not results or a trading update, Tuesday will see a key corporate event as online grocer Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO) makes its first deliveries under its new partnership with high street stalwart Marks and Spencer Group PLC (LON:MKS).
The £1.5bn deal forms part of M&S’s latest attempt to turn the company around and offset problems at its struggling clothing business, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, as well as fulfil plans to double the size of its food business, which is currently worth around £6bn.
The deal will also see Ocado replace around 4,500 products from its former partner Waitrose with around 6,500 M&S items, although the new partnership may take some time to build up as customers decide to make the switch with Ocado and start buying from M&S rather than Waitrose.
The UK bank holiday means the four remaining days are chock-a-block with the economic data a new month always brings, with Friday’s US jobs data traditionally the big macro event.
Preceded by ADP payrolls number on Wednesday, the Challenger Gray and Christmas job losses survey on Thursday and then finishing the week with the official non-farm payrolls survey on Friday 4th.
After July’s NFP survey showed 1.8mln new jobs, the third straight gain, and 4.8% average weekly wage growth, the August number is expected to come in at around 1.5mln with wages up 5.8%, which if confirmed would imply the pace of improvement is slowing.
US unemployment was marked at 10.2% a month ago, down from the post-war peak of 14.7% in April, and is seen dropping just into single figures.
Other than that, manufacturing purchasing managers index surveys around the world are out on Tuesday and service sector PMIs on Thursday, with China’s government PMI data on Monday.
“The data will be important to confirm whether the global economic recovery is stalling, as the preliminary PMIs suggested,” said Marshall Gittler, market analyst at BDSwiss.
There will also be speeches from several members of the Bank of England’s rate setting committee dotted around the week, including governor Andrew Bailey and chief economist Andy Haldane.
Zoom rushes in with second quarter numbers
Over in the US, Monday will see second quarter results from video conferencing group Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ:ZM), widely considered one of the big winners from the pandemic as workers shifted almost en masse to remote working.
Investors are likely to want more detail on how the company is looking to monetise this boom in usage, with customer numbers having expanded exponentially since the start of the year.
The company’s founder and chief executive Eric Yuan is targeting second quarter revenues of between US$495-500mln, up from US$328mln in the first quarter, alongside full-year forecasts of US$1.8bn in revenue compared to US$632mln last year. Investors will be watching closely to see if these predictions have been maintained.
Significant announcements expected for week ending 4 September:
Monday 31 August:
UK Bank Holiday
Tuesday 1 September:
Economic data: UK manufacturing PMI, UK mortgage lending, US manufacturing PMI
Wednesday 2 September:
Economic data: UK house prices, US ADP unemployment
Thursday 3 September:
Interims: Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRO), Alpha FX Group PLC (LON:AFX), Curtis Banks Group PLC (LON:CBP), Foresight Solar Fund Ltd (LON:FSFL), Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd (LON:GKP), Headlam Group PLC (LON:HEAD), MPAC Group PLC (LON:MPAC), PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (LON:PPH)
Economic data: UK services PMI, US trade balance, US jobless claims, US services PMI
Friday 4 September:
Economic data: UK construction PMI, US non-farm payrolls, US unemployment