British Land to count cost of pandemic on Wednesday, UK inflation data eyed

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The mid-point of the week will see most focus on commercial property firm British Land, while other firms such as utility firm SSE and retailer Halfords also delivering results.


On the macro front, the focus will be on the UK’s inflation data for October, which analysts at Pantheon Macro are expecting to rise to 0.6% from 0.5% in September, predicting that the impact of lower energy prices is likely to have been offset by slightly higher rates of food and motor fuel inflation.


British Land to unveil damage of remote working


The working from home boom during lockdown has hit office owners such as British Land Co PLC (LON:BLND) hard, and with the trend of remote working unlikely to be reversed soon even with a coronavirus vaccine potentially on the horizon, the group’s portfolio will continue to be held back and the strategy going forward will be closely eyed in its interim results on Wednesday.


Around half of the desks in the firm’s offices are currently occupied and rental rates may start to take a hit if home working persists into the long term, however, rent collection appears to be staying strong while the rise of click and collect shopping have improved the firm’s retail portfolio.


However, on the flipside, the digital shopping boom is denting the company’s interests on the high street, where footfall has contracted due to the pandemic, and with many businesses going bust it may be hard to refill empty properties even after the crisis is over.


With this in mind, the company is likely to consider cutting rents to well below pre-pandemic levels to draw in tenants, which will, in turn, cause a knock on effect to the value of its assets. This will be reflected in the company’s net asset value (NAV), and with the shares currently trading at a 40% discount to its last NAV it seems investors are not optimistic.


Halfords looks to keep rolling


Motoring and bicycle retailer Halfords Group PLC (LON:HFD) will report its interims of Wednesday, although most of the key figures have been previously flagged in a trading update in October.


Like-for-like sales are expected to be positive with profits higher than initially expected at over GBP55mln as a result of strong cycling demand and good trading after lockdown measures were eased.


However, the key issue is likely to be whether these trends have continued, and whether the new lockdown in England will give the company a further boost or at least offset a decline in sales over winter.


The firm’s outlook will also be a key area of interest, particularly the company’s online business and what the company predicts the impact of the second lockdown will be.


Significant announcements for Wednesday November 18:


Trading updates: Breedon Group PLC (LON:BREE), DP Eurasia NV (LON:DPEU), Safestore Holdings PLC (LON:SAFE), Spirax-Sarco Engineering PLC (LON:SPX)


Interims: SSE PLC (LON:SSE), British Land Co PLC (LON:BLND), Halfords Group PLC (LON:HFD), Speedy Hire PLC (LON:SDY), Tatton Asset Management PLC (LON:TAM)


Economic data: UK inflation

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