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Next, Barratt Developments, Trainline set for Thursday’s spotlight


As Next PLC (LON:NXT) has a habit of under-promising and over-delivering, so Thursday’s trading update could be a case of “rear view: good, forward view: cloudy”.

“NEXT’s online strengths have seen it beat expectations time after time through the pandemic. Can it repeat the trick once more, now that it is competing against a reopened High Street?” wonders Steve Clayton at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Investors will be looking to see how much trade has been pulled back into the group’s stores and away from the online operations. One thing’s for sure though, pretty much every retailer on the High Street would like to be positioned where NEXT is,” Clayton asserted.

Barratt to build on surging house prices

Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) is the next FTSE 100 housebuilder on the rank after peer Persimmon provided an update in the past week.

Shares in Leicestershire-based builder are up by more than 40% over the past 12 months, not far off the all-time highs reached pre-coronavirus.

The third-quarter update from Barratt comes amid surging house prices and off the back of record sales in the first half of the company’s financial year.

Back in February Barratt restore dividend payments and chief executive David Thomas said housing completions of 15,500 units were expected for the year to June 2021, compared to just over 12,600 last time.

Analysts at UBS suggested Thomas could nudge sales guidance higher, especially if the sales rate increases from 0.77 per site per week to nearer 0.80.

Investors will also be looking at forward sales and net cash, which were £3.4bn and £1.1bn as of December, before the payment of the dividend.

Trainline numbers likely to hit the buffers

Final results from rail ticket seller Trainline PLC (LON:TRN) on Thursday are unlikely to make for happy reading, as lockdown measures and stay at home orders during the pandemic saw passenger numbers collapse for the best part of the entire year.

While the easing of lockdown measures is likely to have improved the outlook somewhat, the most recent shutdown in early 2021 is unlikely to have helped the company’s current situation, with new boss Jody Ford facing a difficult path forward as the rise of home working and lingering fears over COVID-19 mean passenger numbers may never recover to their pre-pandemic levels.

In January, the company issued £150mln in bonds to shore up its balance sheet, however, investors will be keen to know how the group plans to use the cash, as well as its view on how the sector will fare across the rest of the year.

Thursday May 6

Trading announcements: Next PLC (LON:NXT), Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV), Derwent London PLC (LON:DLN), Equiniti Group PLC (LON:EQN), Hansard Global PLC (LON:HSD), Mondi PLC (LON:MNDI), Rathbone Bros PLC (LON:RAT)

Finals: Trainline PLC (LON:TRN)

FTSE 100 ex-dividends to knock 6.84 points off the index: Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC (LON:RKT), Croda International PLC (LON:CRDA), Polymetal International PLC (LON:POLY), Admiral Group PLC (LON:ADM), BP PLC (LON:BP.)

Economic data: Bank of England rates decision, UK services PMI, US jobless claims

Co-op cuts prices for plant-based products to match meat equivalents

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