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5 FTSE Dates For Your July Diaries

We’ve been through a bit of a summer lull for big-company news, with not a great deal happening. But as we move into July, we’re approaching interim reporting season for a large portion of the FTSE 100, and some of our biggest firms will be bringing us first-half figures — mainly towards the end of the month.

Here are five key dates that you really should keep an eye open for:

Wednesday 24 July, GlaxoSmithKline

On 24 July we’ll have interim results from GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK), the FTSE’s biggest pharmaceuticals company. There’s not a great deal of growth expected, with a rise in earnings per share of 3% currently forecast by City analysts. But that does put the shares on a fairly undemanding price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 14, falling to 13 based on 2014 estimates. The annual dividend is predicted to rise by about 4% to 77p, though share price growth of nearly 15% over the past 12 months to 1,643p drops the resulting yield to 4.7% from 5.5% last year.

So what are the prospects? Well, turnover in the first quarter fell 3%, with “core” earnings per share (EPS) flat at 26.9p. The firm predicted growth of 3-4% in core EPS for the full year, and announced a 18p Q1 dividend, up 6%.

On the same day, we’ll also have interim results from ARM Holdings.

Thursday 25 July, Unilever

The big one on 25 July is Unilever (LSE: ULVR) with its first-half figures. The shares have fallen from a May peak of over 2,900p, but they have recovered over the last few days to 2,666p today — that’s an overall rise over the year of more than 25%.

The first quarter brought a 4.9% rise in underlying sales, with a 10% boost from emerging markets, though that translated to a modest rise in turnover of 0.2% to ?12.2bn. The Q1 dividend was lifted 10.7% to 26.9 eurocents per share.

The City is expecting a relatively flat year with EPS up 3% and a dividend yield of 3.5%, and that puts the shares on a P/E of nearly 19 — which some will think a little high for a producer of everyday consumables.

Thursday is a busy day, with interims from Rolls Royce Group and Reed Elsevier also expected.

Friday 26 July, BG Group

A full week continues with interims from BG Group (LSE: BG) on Friday, and there’s a slightly down year currently predicted for the oil & gas giant with a 3% fall in EPS expected. The share price has had a slightly disappointing year too, having lost 10% over 12 months to 1,125p.

First-quarter figures showed total earnings down 3% to $1.2bn, though operational cashflow was up 3% at $2.7bn. Chief executive Chris Finlayson reckoned good progress was made in the quarter, and said he was “encouraged by the progress we are making against our remaining 2013 targets”.

Beleaguered miner Anglo American will also report on its first half on the same day.

Tuesday 30 July, Barclays

Moving into the last week of the month, Tuesday will bring us an interim report from Barclays (LSE: BARC). With a 70% share price gain to 284p, Barclays has been one of the FTSE 100′s biggest winners over the past 12 months — and that’s even after the banking regulator identified a £3bn shortfall in the bank’s capital requirements.

Barclays managed to remain in profit all through the financial crisis, and there’s a modest rise in earnings per share expected for 2013 of 3%. But that does put the shares on a lowly P/E of 8. Dividends are recovering too, with a 10% rise forecast for this year.

And to complete the day, we should also have Q1 figures from BP and Weir Group.

Wed 31 July, British American Tobacco

The last day of the month will bring Q1 results from British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS). A month ago, the cigarette giant looked set to enjoy another good year’s share price rise — but it has slipped back to today’s 3,435p for a 12-month gain of only around 6% now.

But global demand for the deadly weed doesn’t look like falling off any time soon, with forecasts suggesting another 10% EPS rise for British American this year.

And to finish off the month, 31 July is also first-quarter day for Centrica and Tullow Oil.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Unilever.

See all articles by Alan Oscroft