September should bring us key European developments, and some company results worth watching out for.
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 (UKX) stagnate, what events might help give some new impetus to the index of the UK's biggest companies? We take a look...
ECB Meeting - 6 September
Fears and speculation concerning the eurozone crisis have been put on the back burner a little of late, 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 this Thursday, 6 September. There are hopes that cross-eurozone bond buying will be on the cards, though that's a solution that's not too popular in Germany, which will be holding its own meeting on the 12 September.
For the moment, the general feel seems to be one of cautious optimism. We shall see.
Housing results - 12 September
One of the full-year reports arriving in September will be from Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV), on 12 September, 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 pre-close 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 (LSE: RDW) on the 19 September, and from Bellway (LSE: BWY) in October, it's an important date -- the other major housebuilders have years ending in December. Barratt shares have recovered very strongly of late, having doubled in the past 12 months, to 159p today.
High-street update - 13 September
On 13 September we'll have half-time results from one of the UK's stronger high-street retailers, fashion purveyor Next (LSE: NXT). Widely considered a very well-managed company, Next has seen its shares pile up more than 50% over the past 12 months to 3,590p, which puts them on quite a high price-to-earnings (P/E) valuation based on current forecasts -- 13 for the year ending 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 £575m and £620m -- the mid-point of that range would represent a 4.75% rise over the same period last year.
Engineering back to health? - 19 September
Diversified engineer Smiths Group (LSE: SMIN) is scheduled to bring us full-year results on 19 September, 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 around 15% since the start of 2012, to 1,040p.
Although the engineering sector has been out of favour 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. And 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 - 26 September
There's an intriguing possibility coming up on 26 September, in the form of interim figures from GVC Holdings (LSE: GVC). Not heard of it? It's an AIM-listed firm with a market cap of just £55m, providing services for the online gaming and sports betting business, including B2B services. And it runs the online CasinoClub, for German-speaking customers.
Why is it interesting? Well, in its July trading update, the firm told us of a 147% increase in gross revenues, to €270k per day, although CasinoClub is down a bit. And current forecasts, albeit by only one broker, suggest a dividend of 22p for the full year -- and on the current share price of 175p, 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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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.