Next set for spotlight at end of a short week

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The short week will end in a whimper as far as the diary’s concerned, with Next Plc (LON:NEXT) the only notable name in the books for Maundy Thursday.

It is the 1st of April too so there may be some jokers in the pack.

Next will be looking to maintain its reputation for under-promising and over-delivering.

Pre-tax profit for the year to the end of January is expected to be £342mln, down from £728mln the year before but not a bad result at all considering the various lockdowns retailers endured.

Having raised guidance on more than one occasion last year analysts will be wondering if Next’s boss, Lord Wolfson, will repeat the trick again. Back in January, he was predicting minimal year-on-year change in sales but a recovery in profit to £670mln.

The retailer is one of those companies that has suspended dividend payments and the market will be keen to learn whether the board is ready to indicate when pay-outs might resume.

Analysts at RBC seem to be upbeat about the company’s prospects ahead of the results, upgrading their rating on the stock to ‘outperform’ from ‘sector perform’ on March 26 as well as upping their target price to 8,800p from 8,100p.

Thursday, April 1:

Trading announcements: Renew Holdings PLC (LON:RNWH)

Finals: Next PLC (LON:NXT), Equiniti Group PLC (LON:EQT), Sportech PLC (LON:SPO)

FTSE 100 ex-dividends to knock 2.12 points off the index: Smith & Nephew PLC (LON:SN.), Taylor Wimpey PLC (LON:TW.), Melrose Industries PLC (LON:MRO), Phoenix Group Holdings PLC (LON:PHNX)

Economic data: UK manufacturing PMI, US jobless claims, US manufacturing PMI

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