3 dates for your July investing diary (Unilever plc, ITV plc and Lloyds Banking Group plc)

Markets seem to be calming a little after the post-Brexit panic. In fact, the FTSE 100 reached 6,612 points on Monday, its highest in 2016 so far. But that hides a mix of companies hurt by the referendum and others that have gained. I’m looking at three today that are set to report in July.

Flight to safety

A lot of investors’ cash has been moved to shares considered safe, boosting Unilever (LSE: ULVR) — since the eve of the vote, the price is up 11.5% to 3,609p. It puts the shares on a forward P/E of 24.5, and that’s pretty high compared to the long-term FTSE average of around 14. And with dividends set to yield only 2.8% this year I can’t help wondering if risk-averse investors are overpaying now, especially as the company warned just before the event that “Unilever in the UK […] would be negatively impacted if the UK were to leave the European Union“.

At least there’s a decent year forecast for 2016, and we should have H1 results on 21 July. For Q1 we saw a 4.7% rise in underlying sales growth, including an 8.3% increase in emerging markets, with chief executive Paul Polman predicting “another year of volume-driven growth ahead of our markets, steady improvement in core operating margin and strong cash flow“. That really is the kind of thing that safety-conscious investors want.

Analysts have upped their revenue and earnings predictions in the last week, but that’s largely down to the falling value of the Pound boosting overseas earnings in Sterling terms. While Unliever investors are likely to avoid volatility, I don’t see great returns at today’s price.

Top telly

Shares in ITV (LSE: ITV) took a tumble too, dropping 30% from referendum day to 27 June, but since then they’re back to 176p for an overall fall of 20%, amid fears that ad revenue will fall as UK companies face squeezes in the months ahead. In a little less than 12 months, the once-popular ITV shares have lost 36% of their value.

Earnings forecasts for this year and next have been scaled back, but the price fall still leaves the shares on a price-to-earnings multiple of 10.5 for this year, dropping to under 10 next. Those will be based on a consensus that’s now a little out of date, but even with a modest downgrade that could still look cheap.

ITV’s first half figures should be with us on 27 July, and investors will be looking for them to build on a 14% rise in revenue in Q1 when the company predicted “good group profit growth” for the half. The figures won’t include any Brexit impact yet, but any thoughts from ITV on the resulting outlook for the rest of the year will be crucial.

Banker bashing

The banks were among the hardest hit by the vote, with Lloyds (LSE: LLOY) shares down 27% to 53p since 23 June. Lloyds should be revealing halfway figures on 28 July and I can picture its bosses tearing up their prepared outlook section and rushing to put together a replacement now we’re heading for the EU exit door.

Now that Lloyds, and other UK’s banks, faces massive uncertainty over the future of its membership of the EU passport scheme for banking services, the falling shares are understandable, but is it fair?

The shares are on a forward P/E of only a little over seven, and this year’s forecast dividend yield is up to 7.2%. That looks a strong contrarian buy to me, unless the market’s worst fears do come to pass — and worst fears usually don’t.

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Alan Oscroft owns shares of Lloyds Banking Group. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Unilever. The Motley Fool UK has recommended ITV. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.