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Week Ahead: prepare for a corporate avalanche

Our preview of the week ahead, when corporate Britain will show its stuff.

 
Week Ahead: prepare for a corporate avalanche

A continuation of the UK’s recession into the second quarter of the year is likely to be confirmed next week, when the Office for National Statistics publishes its first approximation of GDP on Wednesday. But how resilient will corporate Britain have been during that time?

Prepare for an ‘avalanche’, says Jeremy Batstone-Carr of Charles Stanley, as listed companies in Britain and around the world reveal the fruits of their recent work in a rash of corporate reporting next week.

Only low expectations will have to be beaten to help the FTSE 100 to two months of solid gains, having risen by 7.5% since the start of June to 5,650 today. European stock markets have performed even better, up some 9.5% - a rare outperformance of US markets.

Property, alternative investments and oil

Shares in property company Hammerson (HMSO.L), which have pushed higher this week despite several analyst downgrades, will be in the spotlight on Monday as the company reports half-year numbers. British Land (BLND.L) and Great Portland Estates (GPOR.L) follow later in the week.

Highlights on Tuesday include an interim statement from struggling hedge fund manager Man Group (EMG.L), which has seen its share price more than halve in value since March as investors seek safety. Analysts say the dividend is at risk.

Energy companies will reveal the cost of a lower oil price and worsening global demand; Tullow (TLW.L), BG Group (BG.L) and Shell (RDSb.L) will all provide financial results.

Drugs and banks

Pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca (AZN.L)and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) both report to the market, following difficult starts to the year for the UK’s two biggest drugs companies, which have felt the impact of the economic slowdown. GSK has felt the pain of a patent cliff, while Astra still faces losing big patents. Shares in both companies aren’t far from where they started the year, and analysts remain divided on which of the two provide a better investment.

Bank reporting season also begins next week, with Lloyds (LLOY.L) and Barclays (BARC.L) reporting numbers. Britain’s banks are facing tough domestic and external economic challenges, while being encourage to lend at the same time as boosting their financial buffers.

Apple and growth

Next week also brings more US corporate results, with Apple the highlight. A $5.8 billion trading loss at JP Morgan and Microsoft’s first ever quarterly loss stole some headlines in what was a generally upbeat bunch of numbers.

Set against this developing insight into the health of corporate America will be figures for second quarter GDP, which are expected to mark a slowdown when they are published on Friday.

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