Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.
Plant hire firm Ashtead [LON:AHT] has provided a Q4 trading update this morning noting that it has had a resilient performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The chief executive notes that whilst no one could have foreseen the global scale of the pandemic, the business is structured in such a way that allows it to withstand cyclical flows and that appears to have served it well in recent months. The business finishes the year with record free cashflows and earnings per share largely unchanged. The company notes that its resilience meant that there was no need to make any staff redundant or to tap government support schemes in Canada or the UK.
Cineworld [LON:CINE] has announced that it is to start reopening its cinemas in the coming weeks, with venues in the UK and US slated as the last to open on July 10th, although this is subject to government approvals. Amendments to its online booking system will ensure that social distancing can be maintained, but the question for many will be whether there’s sufficient confidence for a return to any kind of normality to be seen here.
Greggs [LON:GRG] shares are trading around one third lower than they were in mid-February, so this morning’s news that it plans to reopen stores will be well received by investors. Some 800 shops are slated to open on Thursday but the company cautions that capacity will be limited and expects sales to be lower than normal for some time. Product ranges will also be restricted as a number of staff remain on furlough and the full store estate is expected to be back online by early July. Delivery and click & collect initiatives are being accelerated and a fuller update will be available in the interims due on July 28th.
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