Job figures set to reveal return of real-term pay growth
AA poised to reveal more on its strategy at full-year results, as Debenhams’ dividend closely watched
THERE are no FTSE 350 companies reporting. Economics: Retail sales (US)
The AA’s investors are still taking stock after a turbulent year that has included a management shake-up, revamped strategy and share price plunge. New boss Simon Breakwell has cut the dividend and outlined more spending to help kick-start a turnaround after February’s profit warning.
Sensing blood, short-sellers are sniffing around the embattled roadside rescue firm with 10.5pc of the AA’s shares in the hands of hedge funds looking to profit from its troubles.
The breakdown giant has proposed upping investment in tech and roadside car patrolling to wean it off using costly third-party garages when demand surges. S&P eased fears over its growing debt pile after insisting in a ratings report last week that it expects the AA to ride out the storm.
The report added that it could suffer in the short-term during its transformation but predicted that any deterioration in the company’s balance sheet would be “transitory”.
Full-year results: AA, JD Sports
Interim results: AB Foods
Trading statement: Ashmore,
Economics: Labour figures (UK), Housing data (US), Industrial production (US), Zew economic expectations survey (EU)
Countryside Properties is stepping up its growth plans. Last week, the housebuilder revealed a £135m acquisition to boost its presence in the Midlands and Yorkshire.
The deal to buy Westleigh will “accelerate the group’s medium-term growth plans” in its partnerships arm, and is a “good geographic fit and immediately earnings enhancing”, according to Peel Hunt’s Gavin Jago.
Some 70pc of Countryside’s homes are from its partnerships division, which works with local authorities to build lower-cost homes.
The construction firm will be looking to kick on from a robust first quarter update in which it built 47pc more homes.
Trading statement: BHP Billiton, Bunzl, Countryside Properties, Hochschild Mining, Jupiter Fund Management, Mediclinic, Polymetal Moneysupermarket, Relx, Segro AGM: Bunzl
Economics: Inflation figures (UK), House price index (UK), Federal Reserve Beige Book (US), CPI (EU), Car regs (EU), Construction output (EU)
Once a behemoth of UK retail, Debenhams’ fall from grace epitomises the struggles of the high street. Burdened with huge sites on long leases while its more nimble online rivals streak ahead, its valuation has plunged to just £270m.
Its share price took another tumble in January after admitting that it had failed to entice squeezed shoppers to its stores despite cutting prices.
The department store blamed a “competitive” and “volatile” trading environment for its troubles but investors and analysts fear that its demise is one that it will struggle to reverse given the shift from bricks to clicks in the sector. After a miserable Christmas, some questions have been raised about its dividend amid “further intensified competition within the clothing industry”, warned Hargreaves Lansdown’s George Salmon. Interim results: Debenhams
Trading statement: Acacia Mining, Rentokil, Sky, Unilever
AGM: Acacia Mining, Domino’s, Essentra, Relx, Segro
Economics: Retail sales (UK), ECB current account (EU)
Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser will be under pressure to deliver after promising to return to growth after a stagnant 2017.
The consumer goods giant behind a string of household brands, including Durex and Cillit Bang, blamed last summer’s cyber attack and tough competition for its first ever year of flat sales.
Boss Rakesh Kapoor said margins were being squeezed by a pick-up in commodity prices and lower priced competition, but pointed out that the firm had returned to growth.
Reckitt is attempting to execute a restructuring that has split the firm into two new divisions, focusing on consumer healthcare brands and household hygiene products.
Trading statement: Reckitt Benckiser AGM: HSBC Economics: Consumer confidence (EU)
Debenhams will give an indication of high street conditions in its interims on Thursday