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Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.

SEGRO

The commercial property operator SEGRO [LON:SGRO] had already been enjoying the benefits of changing consumer habits with a shift away from the high street to online shopping, so as the COVID-19 update published by the business today shows, there’s limited cause for concern. Some tenants are suffering short term cashflow issues and the business is working with them on a case by case basis, but notes that rental income would need to fall by 80% or asset values by 64% before any covenants were breached. One point of interest however is that on the most recent quarterly payment date – March 25th – 71% of due rents had been paid and 25% is being ‘reprofiled’. A year ago, 96% of rent had been paid. The company remains confident that the final dividend will be paid.

Hays

Recruiter Hays [LON:HAS] has this morning joined the list of companies looking to bolster cash reserves as it works through the COVID-19 crisis. The company is looking to raise £200m in a bid to bolster its balance sheet and ensure that it is well positioned to harness the bounce that is expected to come once normality resumes. Hays’ global footprint and the potential for significant increases in employment when the crisis is overcome ought to bode well and major institutional shareholders have already been consulted. The accompanying trading statement also shows that next week’s interim dividend payment has been cancelled.

Pets at Home

Pets at Home [LON:PETS] have published a full year trading update this morning, with profits looking to come in slightly ahead of expectations as a result of exceptional levels of customer demand both online and in store. The sector has been granted “essential retailer” status by the government during the COVID-19 shut down, which stands to offer some confidence to shareholders. However, the dog grooming facilities have been closed, there’s a risk staff shortage could lead to other lines being curtailed and footfall is tipped to decline, too. As such, turnover is expected to be impacted at the start of the financial year and given the uncertainty, no guidance is offered. Worthy of note is the fact that the company is offering £1.1m of funding to a range of nominated pet charities, as well as having established a crisis fund for colleagues.

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Please note this article does not constitute investment advice. Investors are encouraged to do their own research beforehand or consult a professional advisor.

Tony Cross

Tony Cross

Tony Cross is a market commentator with over 15 years of experience, producing compelling, insightful copy for journalists and investors alike. Focusing on macroeconomics, UK blue chip equities and inter market analysis, Cross's commentary is well regarded for its clarity and ability to cut through the waffle. He has been quoted in publications as diverse as The Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian and The Sun. He has also been a regular guest on both Share Radio and TipTV.

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