LONDON -- We don't have a super busy September, as we're heading into a fairly quiet time of the year. But we are expecting a few important annual results to come our way, and we're still on the tail end of the recent interim reporting season.
After an August that saw the FTSE 100 stagnate, what events might help give some new impetus to the index of the U.K.'s biggest companies? Let's take a look.
ECB meeting: Sept. 6
Fears and speculation concerning the eurozone crisis have been put on the back burner somewhat since European Central Bank president Mario Draghi told us the bank will do whatever it takes to save the euro and keep the struggling southern European states within the currency union. And in doing so, he helped bring down frighteningly high Italian and Spanish bond yields.
But there is currently not much meat on the bones of the plan, and we should hear more when the ECB meets Thursday. There are hopes that cross-eurozone bond-buying will be in the cards, though that solution is not too popular in Germany, which will be holding its own meeting on Sept. 12.
For the moment, the general feel seems to be one of cautious optimism. We shall see.
Housing results: Sept. 12
One of the full-year reports arriving in September will be from Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV.L ) , on Sept. 12, and it should shed some more light on the sector as a whole. Trading updates so far from the big builders have indicated rising numbers of completions, growing order books, and selling prices either flat or gently rising. In fact, that's largely what Barratt's preclose update in July told us -- as well as to expect a rise in pre-exceptional pre-tax profits in excess of 150%.
Coming ahead of final results from Redrow on the Sept. 19 and from Bellway in October, it's an important date: The other major homebuilders have years ending in December. Barratt shares have recovered strongly of late, having doubled in the past 12 months to 159 pence today.
High-street update: Sept. 13
On Sept. 13 we'll have half-time results from one of the U.K.'s stronger high-street retailers, fashion purveyor Next (LSE: NXT.L ) . Widely considered a well-managed company, Next has seen its shares pile up more than 50% over the past 12 months to 3,590 pence, which puts them on quite a high price-to-earnings valuation based on current forecasts -- 13 for the year ending in January, falling a little to 12 for 2014 predictions. And the dividend yield is around a modest 3%.
But it looks like we should have decent results to back up that valuation, with last month's trading update telling us of an overall 4.5% rise in Next brand sales, with the bulk of that (13%) coming from Next Directory. At the same time, the company lifted and narrowed its full-year guidance, suggesting a pre-tax profit of between 575 million pounds and 620 million pounds. The midpoint of that range would represent a 4.75% rise over the same period last year.
Engineering back to health?: Sept. 19
Diversified engineer Smiths Group (LSE: SMIN.L ) is scheduled to bring us full-year results on Sept. 19, and shares in the firm, together with the sector as a whole, have been going through a decent patch this year: Smiths shares are up about 15% since the start of 2012 to 1,040 pence.
Although the engineering sector has been out of favor for a while, Smiths has actually been doing fine during the economic slowdown, with earnings per share rising most years (despite a small dip in 2009). The dividend has been maintained at a well-covered rate and is expected to rise: Current City forecasts put the yield at 3.6% and 3.9% for this year and next, respectively. The shares are on a relatively low P/E of around 11.
Engineering performance can be a handy barometer of overall economic demand, so the results will be worth examination.
A small-cap possibility: Sept. 26
There's an intriguing possibility coming up on Sept. 26 in the form of interim figures from GVC Holdings (LSE: GVC.L ) . Never heard of it? It's an AIM-listed firm with a market cap of just 55 million pounds, providing services for the online gaming and sports-betting business, including B2B services. It also runs the online CasinoClub for German-speaking customers.
Why is it interesting? In its July trading update, the company told us of a 147% increase in gross revenue to 270,000 euros per day, although CasinoClub is down a bit. And current forecasts, albeit by only one broker, suggest a dividend of 22 pence for the full year -- and on the current share price of 175 pence, that's a yield of 12.5%.
The gaming industry has been recovering a little of late, so this has to be worth a look, don't you think?
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Further investment opportunities:
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