AJ Bell and Countryside Properties in spotlight on Thursday

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Results from AJ Bell PLC (LON:AJB) should give insights into investor sentiment through the second half of 2020.


The investment platform’s final results arrive on Thursday although some of the headline figures have already been delivered by the company in a year end trading update late last month.


The company has reported that customer numbers grew 27% and net inflows by 28% in the year to the end of September, driven by an acceleration in direct-to-consumer growth, while assets under administration rose 11% to GBP49.7bn by the end of the financial year, with total assets under administration up 8% to GBP56.5bn.


With the year looking like a strong one, the outlook for its current year is likely to take focus, particularly as the volatility of 2020 is unlikely to be replicated in 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic shows signs of entering its final stages amid recent vaccine news.


One area of focus may be the development and reception of new products, with chief executive Andy Bell having previously highlighted a new streamlined pension product that he said has been very popular with financial advisers and the more recent launch of a cash savings ‘hub’ for retail investors.


Countryside eyed for outlook


Countryside Properties PLC (LON:CSP) full-year results should not have too many surprises, having shown investors around its headline numbers in mid-October. The pre-close trading update revealed 4,053 completed house sales, down 29% year on year, with operating profit guided to around GBP54m, which was pretty much what the City expected.


Management’s view on the new financial year will be the main area of interest, as the outlook statement was fairly curt.


Analysts at Peel Hunt said they will be paying particular attention to the phasing of sites, with the order book up 15% at GBP1.4bn and reservation rates having been strong since the housing market was allowed to reopen after the first lockdown but likely to unwind in the second half of next year as more stock becomes available.


Also, is there more of an indication of what management plan to do with the GBP250mln raised in July?


There were smoke signals of shareholder dissent on the eve of the results as the company’s third-largest investor, US-based Browning West, called for the chairman to be replaced and for its own representative to join the board. The move is part of an attempt to break up company, according to reports.


Browning West wants to split off the company’s housebuilding arm from its social housing business.


Thursday December 3


Interims: Clipper Logistics PLC (LON:CLG)


Finals: AJ Bell PLC (LON:AJB), Countryside Properties PLC (LON:CSP), Caretech Holdings PLC (LON:CTH), Oxford Metrics PLC (LON:OMG), Paragon Banking Group PLC (LON:PAG), Tritax Eurobox PLC (LON:EBOX), Impax Asset Management Group PLC (LON:IPX)


FTSE 100 ex-dividends to knock 0.84 points off the index: Bunzl PLC (LON:BNZL), 3i Group plc (LON:III)


Economic data: UK services PMI, US jobless claims, US services PMI, US non-manufacturing PMI

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