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Are Ocado investors set for an early Christmas present?

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Speculators wonder whether Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO) may deliver early Christmas bounty on Thursday, as a trading update may shed some light on how the second lockdown played out for the online grocer.

In September, the delivery giant said group underlying earnings (EBITDA) would be over £40mln and it raised it again to £60mln last month thanks to strong sales and operational gearing.

At this stage, the market may wonder if the firm is in for a third upgrade.

“As a reminder, before Covid-19, online penetration of grocery was 7% in the UK; during this unprecedented time it hit 13%,” analysts at Peel Hunt noted.

DS Smith unpacks results

Thursday’s interim results from packaging giant DS Smith PLC (LON:SMDS) are likely to be eyed for further positivity, after upbeat trading reports in September and November.

Those updates somewhat alleviated the gloom from July’s full-year results, which included a cancelled dividend. The hope will be for a continued recovery.

Already, the firm has voiced its intention to reinstate the dividend so will be keen details and a schedule. Any further clarity on outlook will also be key.

Analysts will also be watching for any changes in the company’s forecasts, with full-year adjusted pre-tax profits expected to fall 20%, as well as whether DS Smith will retain its long-term financial goals which include an adjusted operating margin of between 10%-12%.

Marston’s set to suffer hangover from lockdown

Final results from publican Marston’s PLC (LON:MARS) are likely to count the cost of a difficult year.

Previously, the company announced plans to cut 2,150 jobs amidst the coronavirus pandemic and the business disruption caused by lockdown restrictions.

A year-end update in October reported sales of £821mln, 30% below last year.

Investors will now be eager for any details on how Marston’s has coped with the second lockdown through November and early December, as well as its outlook as the new tiered restrictions regime is in effect.

Thursday December 10

Trading updates: Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO)

Interims: DS Smith PLC (LON:SMDS), FirstGroup PLC (LON:FGP), DWF Group PLC (LON:DWF), Cohort PLC (LON:CHRT)

Finals: Marston’s PLC (LON:MARS), On The Beach Group PLC (LON:OTB), RWS Holdings PLC (LON:RWS), Character Group PLC (LON:CCT), C4X Discovery Holdings PLC (LON:C4XD)

Ex-dividends to knock 1.32 points off the FTSE 100 index: Intermediate Capital Group PLC (LON:ICP), Homeserve PLC (LON:HSV), Aviva PLC (LON:AV.)

Economic data: UK GDP, UK production, US inflation, US jobless claims, ECB rates decision

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