|United Utilities Group
|FTSE AIM 100
|FTSE AIM 50
|FTSE AIM All-Share
|Gas, Water & Multiutilities
|LONDON (SHARECAST) - Tin hats will need to be at the ready on Thursday morning as a barrage of company results is expected.
With the market in disarray again, the defensive qualities of United Utilities (UU) might interest a few risk averse investors.
The company has already issued a pre-closed period trading update in which it said it expects a "good underlying financial performance" for the fiscal year just ended.
"Revenue growth of 3%-4% is expected for the full year (FY12e [fiscal year 2012-estimate] £1,566m; FY11a [fiscal 2011-actual] £1,513m), which is slightly below the allowed regulated price rise (0.2% real price cut plus RPI [retail price inflation] of 4.7%) due to customers switching to meters and lower commercial volumes in H2 [the second half]," notes Tina Cook, an analyst at Charles Stanley.
"There is likely to be an update on costs associated with the transfer of private sewers in October. Based on comments from industry peers, costs could come in at the lower end of initial expectations," Cook said.
"Ofwat is expected to finalise the parameters for the next regulatory period (2015-20) later this year and UU is likely to reassure that any changes arising from consultation with the regulator are likely to be manageable (evolution rather than revolution)," Cook added.
The broker is forecasting profit before tax of £324m, down from £329m last year. Earnings per share are tipped to edge up to 35.4p from 35.1p, while the full-year dividend is seen rising to 32p from 30p.
More evidence this week of hard times on the High Street will not have unduly bothered ASOS shareholders, as the company is exclusively an online retailer.
The market is anticipating pre-tax profits of £39.7m on sales of £495m. Earnings per share are predicted to rise to 37.01p from 27.3p last year, but there is still no sign of a dividend from this growth company.
Retail sales in the final quarter of the firm's financial year, which runs to the end of March, increased 34% year-on-year; UK sales rose 4% and International enjoyed a 63% surge. International sales now represent 62% of total sales.
Those growth rates may be looked on with envy by High Street retailers, but were not enough to satisfy the market, which punished ASOS's shares, though they have mostly recovered since the disappointing trading update on April 26th.
Turning to the economy, at 9:30, another stab at measuring Britain's first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) will be unveiled, but the pundits think that the new figures will just confirm the initial estimate of a 0.2% fall. That means that, technically, Britain will remain in recession - defined as successive quarters of economic contraction.
Daily Mail and General Trust
INTERIM DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS
Bloomberg Consumer Confidence (US) (14:45)
Continuing Claims (US) (13:30)
Durable Goods Orders (US) (13:30)
IFO Business Climate (GER) (09:00)
IFO Current Assessment (GER) (09:00)
IFO Expectations (GER) (09:00)
Initial Jobless Claims (US) (13:30)
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UK ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS
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FINAL DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
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