The Week Ahead: Dividend fear puts cloud over Hiscox



The damage caused by St Jude last week wasn’t as bad as
many had feared – which is good news for insurers. But storms aside, investors
in Hiscox may be disappointed by the lack of dividend growth, when the firm today
reveals plans to reinvest cash into its retail operations and IT systems over
the next four years – which Westhouse analysts are concerned will mean there won’t be much “surplus capital available to be returned in the short term … which may disappoint”. The trading backdrop is quite challenging, Westhouse points out, but it believes Hiscox is well-positioned to respond and, ultimately, to grow significantly.

Also today, HSBC’s third-quarter update is expected to show progress, unlike its UK-focused peers. Investec analysts expect it to be on track for a full-year profit of $25.3bn (£15.9bn).

Results/Updates: Biome Technologies, e2v technologies, Egdon Resources HSBC Holdings, Hiscox, Grafenia Telecity, Weir Group.


It is still all about cheap clothes for Associated British Foods as its Primark retail business appears unstoppable. It has plans to conquer Europe with France and Germany top of the list. It has five French shops planned so far and already has 10 in Germany. Analysts think results tomorrow will prove Primark can still do no wrong. Exane BNP Paribas said it has a “rare combination” of “immense retail growth opportunity accompanied with modest execution risk”. It rated it outperform, and raised the target to 2700p.

Marks & Spencer’s half-year figures may not yet show signs of a turnaround but investors may be losing patience? Analysts at Shore Capital expect a 2014 profit of £607m, but will its clothing business have improved quickly enough?

Results/Updates: Associated British Foods, 4Imprint, Balfour Beatty, CSR, G4S, Hilton Food Group, First Derivatives, Imperial Tobacco, Intercontinental Hotels, Intu Properties, Marks & Spencer, Kofax, Legal & General, Next Fifteen Communications.


The housing boom is much talked-about, and the housebuilders’ share prices have been soaring. As Govern-ment schemes such as Help to Buy begin to assist and mortgage approvals grow, Persimmon is expected to report a strong trading update. Numis’ Chris Millington expects the market to be looking for evidence that Persimmon will accelerate cash distribution to shareholders.

Results/Updates: Aer Lingus, Alent, Ark Therapeutics, DCC, Experian, easyJet, First Group, Foxtons Group, Goldplat, Lancashire Holdings, Millennium & Copthorne, Mondi, New World Resources, Old Mutual, Persimmon, Smurfit Kappa, JD Wetherspoon.


Warmish early autumn weather is not a great climate to be flogging coats but analysts at Numis still think SuperDry owner Supergroup will reveal a strong second quarter. Its international business will continue to drive growth and it should remain on track. Cantor Fitzgerald expects its second quarter trading to reveal retail sales up 15 per cent at £60.9m.

Results/Updates: Admiral Group, Aviva, Beazley, Cable & Wireless, Dairy Crest, Dialight, Grainger, Hardy Oil & Gas, Halfords, Invensys, Inmarsat, London Mining, Morgan Sindall, Randgold Resources, Reed Elsevier, RSA Insurance, Schroders, Spirax-Sarco Engineering, Shanks, Spirent Communications, SuperGroup, Synthomer, Tate & Lyle.


Back to house prices again. Bovis Homes’ trading update is expected to be good. Peel Hunt analysts argue it is the least liked housebuilder because of its poor return on equity, and thinks it needs to improve its asset sales or churn. As it has been out of favour, Panmure Gordon’s scribblers think it is the cheapest and they rate it a buy.

Results/Updates: Bovis Homes, Hansard Global, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, IAG, John Menzies, Novae, Rentokil, Rolls-Royce.

Economics Diary


Purchasing managers’ index – construction, Halifax house-price data.


British retail consortium -  like-for-like sales data, purchasing managers’ index - services, official reserves data.


British Retail Consortium shop-price index, industrial-production figures, manufacturing-production figures, National Institute of Economic and Social Research – GDP estimate (October), new car registrations.


Bank of England interest-rate  announcement, Bank of England  asset-purchase target.


Trade figures, construction-output data.

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