Earnings and updates abound and these have been soft overall. 56% of European companies have missed sales forecasts but a combination of increased dividends and the feeling that results could have been worse coupled with the usual lack of alternatives are keeping the wolf from the door for now.
AstraZeneca (+3.05%) increased its full-year forecast for revenue and earnings despite the decline in sales of some of its top-selling medicines. The group now expects 2015 revenue at constant currencies to be in line with 2014, after previously predicting a low single-digit percent decline.
RSA (+2.07%) the insurance firm increased written premiums by 1% in the first 9 months of this year – rising to £4.4bn. Following the withdrawal of the Zurich deal in September, the company has still managed to book profits ahead of those in 2014 but some of this is down to gains from disposals.
EasyJet (+0.75) passengers were up 9.7% in October. During October the airline carried 6.4 million passengers, compared with 5.84 million passengers a year earlier. Full year profit before tax guidance continues to be within a range of 675 million pounds ($1.03 billion) to GBP700 million for the year ended Sept. 30, as guided in September. The launch of three new routes to include Milan and Paris helps the bull case for the stock and with the majority of brokers holding a buy rating, the average price target to 1983p implies additional upside of 11% from current prices.
Morrison (-3.55%) If there is a single sector in the UK that has failed to recoup its stance prior to the global financial crisis it’s the UK supermarkets which continue to drag their feet when it comes to rising from the ashes. Morrison has reported yet another quarter of falling sales as falling food prices and fierce competition in the space have led to a fall of 2.6% in like for like sales. The supermarket also said profit in the second half of the year should be higher than the first, when it made a pre-tax profit of £126m, while net debt would be lower than its previous guidance of £1.9bn-£2.1bn.
Anglo American (-5.03%) having risen in concert with other mining stocks yesterday, the stock has reversed its gains. Very few brokers are advocating a buy on the company. The mining firm is set to close its Mongolia office amid a global cost cutting move. China’s iron ore industry continues to be problematic with fixed asset investment in ferrous down 20.8% from this time last year. A lower price target from Investec to 588p from 773p is also probably a little generous.
Glencore (+0.48%) an upgrade from Deutsche Bank this morning has done little to influence any real upside in the stock which is trading fairly flat following yesterday’s 5.4% gain.
We are calling the Dow flat at 17873. Unemployment claims are expected to rise to 263,000 from last week’s 260,000 and with several FOMC members speaking later this afternoon, the market as usual will be looking for clarity on the next rate hike.