UK & US

Burberry, United Utilities to end the week with diverse sets of finals

Burberry Group PLC (LON:BRBY) ends the week with its finals, reflecting on what has been a turbulent year for the luxury clothing maker.

First it was the trade war between the US and China that weighed on demand in the companys Asian market in combination with pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and since January coronavirus lockdowns have squeezed the regions economies.

With many of the group's shops closed in the final quarter of the financial year to 31 March, the company has already indicated that sales would fall by around 30% for the quarter and that its final dividend is also likely to take a hit.

Key will be the companys online operation, which will either indicate that customer shopping habits have shifted to the internet or if shoppers have decided to hold off luxury purchases entirely during the crisis.

To stay in the sector, the markets will catch up with UK retail sales for the month of April.

After March slid to a record low of 5.1% with just over the week of lockdown, April is expected to reach a new bottom with everyone forced at home.

“On-line sales may well take up some of the slack, along with groceries, but even with that the April numbers including fuel are expected to come in at a record -15%, with consumption expected to fall off a cliff,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.

Its in the water

There could be more joy for investors in United Utilities Group PLC (LON:UU.), also releasing its preliminary results.

The water company said in March it had a “robust” liquidity position but that the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis are expected to significantly increase its pension surplus.

In response to the pandemic, the North West firm put in place measures designed to protect employees, while also offering innovative affordability schemes for customers experiencing difficulty in the current economic climate.

Revenue and underlying operating profit in 2020 are expected to be higher than last year, reflecting regulatory changes, though reported profit will be hit by an £80mln depreciation charge.

UUs robust liquidity position extends out for 24 months “at the upper end of our policy range” to leave the business “well protected against financial shocks that may be experienced as a result of the outbreak in the short to medium term”, though the wider economic situation remains highly uncertain.

As of last month, UK water companies were the pick of the utility stock through the crisis for analysts at Deutsche Bank.

Significant announcements expected for Friday 22 May:

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