Two companies reporting Wednesday, PZ Cussons and SSP Group, should illustrate the two sides of lock

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With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still roiling markets, two companies reporting on Wednesday should illustrate the two sides of the last lockdown.

PZ Cussons PLC (LON:PZC), the maker of Carex and Imperial Leather soaps, hand wash and sanitiser gel, has not issued any news to the market since a third-quarter report in mid-April, since when its shares have climbed around 19% on expectations for strong sales with its full-year numbers.

In April, the FTSE 250-listed company maintained its profit guidance for the year to May 31, 2020, as it said its hygiene products sold in the UK, Australia and Asia had seen a spike in demand during the coronavirus outbreak.

However, Cussons said it was struggling to produce enough of its hand wash and soap products as it could not source enough raw materials, that its beauty business worldwide has been hit by social distancing measures, and that its major market of Nigeria was being hit by uncertainty over the fall in oil prices.

Management said then that they had cut capital expenditure but that had not taken up any state support to pay workers in the countries where it operates. Investors will want to know more.

Did SSP Group have a brighter summer?

SSP Group plc‘s (LON:SSP) trading update will reveal whether the partial resumption of travel this summer has somewhat helped the dismal trading seen during lockdown.

Despite the uncertain outlook, it will be useful to know how the fellow FTSE 250-listed group reckons the winter will be.

In July, the train stations and airports food outlets operator said it was mulling over 5,000 job cuts due to the low numbers of passenger numbers despite restrictions easing across Europe.

By autumn it had expected that only around 20% of its units in the UK would have reopened, so the market will want to know whether that is confirmed.

Investors are also looking to hear more on SSP’s full-year guidance, following the GBP180mln-GBP250mln operating loss forecast for the second half alongside an 80%-85% year-on-year revenue slump.

Flash PMIs eyed

The main macroeconomic focus around the world this week comes on Wednesday with preliminary purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs) from the major industrial countries.

Looking at the forecasts, three things stand out to market analyst Marshall Gittler at BDSwiss: that UK and US service-sector PMIs are expected to decline, that all manufacturing PMIs are expected to decline except France’s, and that the Eurozone service-sector PMIs are expected to gain only slightly.

“We can dismiss the expected fall in the UK and US service-sector PMIs as a function of the fact that they’re relatively high to begin with,” he said.

The last UK services PMI, for example, was the highest it has been since the spring of 2015, so a decline there and in the US would still leave both comfortably in expansionary territory.

Significant announcements expected on Wednesday, September 23:

Trading statement: SSP Group plc (LON:SSPG)

Finals: PZ Cussons PLC (LON:PZC), Allergy Therapeutics PLC (LON:AGY)

Interims: Cloudcall Group PLC (LON:CALL), ECSC Group PLC (LON:ECSC), Equals Group PLC (LON:EQLS), LoopUp Group PLC (LON:LOOP), Staffline PLC (LON:STAF), Strix Group PLC (LON:KETL), Ten Entertainment Group PLC (LON:TEG), The Mission Group PLC (LON:TMG), Warpaint London PLC (LON:W7L), Xeros Technology Group PLC (LON:XSG)

Economic data: UK flash manufacturing PMI, UK flash services PMI, US flash manufacturing PMI, US flash services PMI

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