George Salmon 12 October 2017
Since the requirement for quarterly interim management statements came to an end a couple of years ago, Q1 and Q3 announcements have become increasingly brief. However, they still provide an important window into company performance, especially for those undergoing major transformations or which are intensely seasonal businesses.
In our look ahead to next week, we preview a brace of quarterly trading updates, and one set of full year results. The focus is on;
- ASOS, where investors will be hoping recent rapid growth can be sustained.
- Merlin’s summer trading update is usually brief, but given that many of its theme parks close for the winter, it covers a vital period.
- A third quarter update from Reckitt Benckiser, where details on the integration of Mead Johnson will be eagerly anticipated.
FTSE 350 stocks reporting next week
|Polymetal||Q3 Production results|
|Rio Tinto||Q3 Operational Review|
|Schroders||Q3 Interim Management Statement|
|ASOS*†||Full Year Results|
|Bellway||Full Year Results|
|BHP Billiton||Q1 Operational Review|
|Evraz||Q3 Production report|
|Mediclinic International||Interim Trading Statement|
|Merlin Entertainments*||Q3 Trading Statement|
|Moneysupermarket.com||Q3 Trading Statement|
|Pearson*||Q3 Interim Management Statement|
|Hochschild Mining||Q3 Production Review|
|Rathbone Brothers||Q3 Interim Management Statement|
|Reckitt Benckiser*||Q3 Interim Management Statement|
|Softcat||Full Year Results|
|London Stock Exchange||Q3 Interim Management Statement|
|Rank Group||Interim Management Statement|
|Rentokil Initial||Q3 Trading Statement|
|Segro||Q3 Trading Statement|
|Stobart Group||Half Year Results|
|Travis Perkins||Q3 Trading Statement|
|Acacia Mining||Q3 Earnings Release|
|Dechra Pharmaceuticals||Interim Management Statement|
|InterContinental Hotels Group*||Q3 Trading Statement|
*Hargreaves Lansdown provides research updates on these stocks
With ten-figure sale numbers and a market cap a shade under £5bn, ASOS is in many ways a different animal from its peers on the AIM market. However, given it’s still firmly in the growth stage, the company is very much at home on the UK’s junior market.
In next week’s results, the pace of this growth will be the first checkpoint for many investors. ASOS has guided for growth at the top of the 30-35% range.
Elsewhere, ASOS recently unveiled plans to open a new facility just outside Atlanta, Georgia. With US sales growing strongly, this feels like a sensible strategy. However, the initial bill is expected to be around $40m, so investors will be paying close attention to any guidance on the budget for next year’s spending.
The summer season is, as you might expect, crucial for Merlin Entertainments.
It’s been a comparatively wet summer in the UK, with the result that the British business may well present a mixed picture. While Midway could enjoy a boost, welcome after the terrorist attacks in London earlier this year, the Resort Theme Parks will likely have fared less well (although visitor numbers are still recovering from the rollercoaster crash in 2015, so could still be positive).
However, with over 2/3rds of profits generated outside the UK, the success of the ongoing roll-out of Midway and LEGOLAND attractions is likely to attract most attention. Last quarter saw the opening of Merlin’s new ‘little BIG city’ concept in Berlin, while we may also see an update on plans for a LEGOLAND in New York.
There has been recent speculation that Merlin may be in the market to acquire the Busch Gardens theme parks in Florida and Virgina from the struggling SeaWorld group. Chief Financial Officer Anne-Francoise Nesmes has previously described the parks as “good-quality assets” and said that “we would be interested. But it takes two parties to do a deal”, so the door looks like it’s open.
All-in-all, Thursday looks like a potentially interesting set of results.
Donald Trump isn’t the only one with China at the front of his mind.
Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser took a big step East with last year’s acquisition of child nutrition specialist Mead Johnson. While the potential of the East Asian market is clearly attractive, performance at Mead Johnson was hardly sparkling prior to the $18bn deal and July’s trading update brought some underwhelming news on margins.
While it would perhaps be a touch unfair to judge things this early on, especially since Reckitt has a strong operational record, signs of improvement would nonetheless be well-received.
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