Are Reckitt and Bellway still seeing ups and down of coronavirus pandemic?

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Tuesday should bring a bit more company news after a quiet start to the week and with two weeks to go, the US election headlines will only step up from here, with some Brexit news also expected.

Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC (LON:RB.), the maker of such diverse consumer essentials as Durex, Nurofen, Lemsip, Dettol, Calgon and Cilit Bang, has so far come out as one of the beneficiaries of the coronavirus pandemic as higher demand for cleaning products had its goods flying off the shelves.

In its trading update, investors will be hoping the growing second wave of infections has also served to boost demand from both consumers and professional customers such as hotels, airlines and car hire firms.

In the second quarter, like-for-like sales grew 10.5%, down from 13.3% in the first, but still with strong growth of its surface disinfectants and along with over-the-counter health brands, but held back by slower condom ssles after months of social distancing.

Also on the agenda should be an outlook for investment in the business, with Reckitt chief executive Laxman Narasimhan saying in July that the company aims to put more money back into the business after its cash flow doubled in the first half of the year.

Bellway activity in focus

Bellway PLC (LON:BWY), which announces full-year results on Tuesday, has already reported that it saw a 31% decline in housing revenues to GBP2.2bn during the 12 months to July 31, 2020, as completed sales were down by the same percentage.

The housebuilder at the time pointed to incremental costs arising from lower productivity amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns, which it said will result in a lower gross margin across its building sites for the past year.

As such, UBS expects the main focus of the results to be around profitability, current trends in activity and an outlook for the new financial year.

Forecasting a sizeable drop in gross profit margins, analysts at the Swiss bank have pencilled in an underlying operating loss in the second half of the year for Bellway of GBP8mln, or GBP80mln including one-offs.

The analysts think sales rates may well have continued to improve in the new financial year and that pricing will have remained firm.

Interestingly, larger rival Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) recently said that while demand for new houses has remained strong, buyers are increasingly relying on the government’s help-to-buy scheme, and that since the coronavirus pandemic there has been a material change in loan to value (LTV) lending criteria

US earnings season tunes into Netflix

With the US earnings season now in full swing, video streaming giant Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) is scheduled to deliver its third-quarter numbers, having as usual given cautious guidance back in July after its second-quarter figures smashed forecasts thanks to a demand boom during coronavirus lockdown and the closure of cinemas across the world.

The key areas of interest will be the profit and loss account and subscriber numbers and whether these line up with guidance from chairman Reed Hastings that the quarter will see net subscriber additions of 2.5mln, revenues of US$6.3bn and operating profit of US$1.25bn.

Also under the spotlight will be the group’s new content pipeline, which has been held up by the pandemic restrictions on travel and social distancing, as well as the status of the group’s cash flow.

Significant announcements expected on Tuesday October 20:

Trading updates: BHP Group PLC (LON:BHP), Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC (LON:RB.), Gamesys Group PLC (LON:GYS), IntegraFin Holdings PLC (LON:IHP), Luceco PLC (LON:LUCE), McBride PLC (LON:MCB)

Interims: TP Group PLC (LON:TPG)

Finals: Bellway PLC (LON:BWY), Softcat PLC (LON:SCT), Transense Technologies PLC (LON:TRT)

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