The middle point of the shortened week will see a few notable names in the company results calendar, with finals due from both Saga and Hilton Food Group.
Meanwhile, investors will be eyeing the macro calendar for PMI data from the UK’s services sector as well as the minutes from the latest meeting of the US Federal Reserve.
Saga and Hilton Food the yin and yang of lockdown
On Wednesday Hilton Food Group PLC (LON:HFG) should publish a strong set of full-year numbers.
A January update was bullish, helped by a growing contribution from Australia and the Nordics, and this came after September’s beefed-up interim dividend as lockdown restrictions herded higher demand from supermarkets, while a 50% stake in Netherland-based Dalco Food offers a plant-based foot in the meat substitutes market.
The company, which packs all of Tesco’s red meat, has opened a new facility in Belgium, with another due to start in New Zealand later this year.
Profits for 2020 are forecast to have grown 11%, according to broker Peel Hunt, where analysts noted that management are exploring opportunities in both domestic and overseas markets.
The outlook will be an important indicator of how Hilton expects the mix of opening up in the UK and ongoing lockdowns in Europe will affect demand.
Meanwhile, Saga PLC (LON:SAGA), the insurance and holidays specialist serving the over-50s market, negotiated some additional breathing space on its lending arrangements last month as its holiday business was devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The conclusion of the refinancing talks was “the latest step in reinforcing Saga’s financial position,” said boss Euan Sutherland.
He said the group was seeing “strong pent-up demand for travel among our customers and remain well placed to deliver on this opportunity when the guidance on international travel changes”.
The government guidance indicates there is unlikely to be any trips abroad until the end of the summer at the earliest.
Saga’s debt covenants are likely to remain tight, said Peel Hunt, but said these have been stress-tested by the company and it is apparently comfortable with its headroom.
“The key issue is a late 2021 restart of the Travel business,” the analysts added, with Wednesday’s preliminary results unlikely to definitively resolve anything.
Significant announcements for Wednesday April 7:
Finals: Saga PLC (LON:SAGA), Hilton Food Group PLC (LON:HFG), IGas Energy Plc (LON:IGAS), Pharos Energy PLC (LON:PHAR)
Economic data: UK services PMI, US trade balance, US Fed minutes