Lender Amigo, recruiter Hays and Gym Group all due to report on busy Thursday in London


After a fairly quiet few weeks in the City as many take a well-earned summer break, Thursday looks like being a bit busier.

Low cost gym operator The Gym Group PLC (LON:GYM) is due to report its half-year results.

The company has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years, and showed no sign of slowing in last month’s trading update, when it revealed a 20% jump in membership numbers and a 27% surge in revenue.

Analysts at Peel Hunt reckon that top-line growth will filter down to the bottom line as well and are forecasting pre-tax profits (before accounting changes) of GBP9mln – a 30% year-on-year rise.

Driving some of the growth of late has been the new premium membership, LIVE IT, so the market will be interested to see if this is still performing well.

New openings have also been behind the surge, and the plan is to open another 15-20 this year, plus a first-of-its-kind ‘small box gym’. An update on how these are coming along will no doubt we welcomed.

Amigo shares could do with a friend

Guarantor loan provider Amigo Holdings PLC (LON:AMGO) is also due up with a first-quarter update on Thursday, and investors will be hoping the stock can rediscover its mojo.

The shares have halved over the past couple of months, not helped by the departure of chief executive Glen Crawford due to illness.

But there have also been wider concerns about the regulatory spotlight and how the current economic uncertainty could affect demand for loans.

The strength of the guarantor lending market has prompted concerns from UK financial regulator the FCA over how the affordability of borrowers was being assessed, although these have batted away by chairman Stephan Wilcke.

Analysts at Shore Capital recently cut their recommendation down to ‘sell’, citing the “increased regulatory spotlight on the guarantor lending sector and a more uncertain macroeconomic environment”.

Brexit uncertainty drags on Hays

Recruitment firm Hays PLC (LON:HAY) saw its UK business hit by Brexit uncertainty in the fourth quarter but it said it was still on track to meet market forecasts for the full year.

The company’s UK division, which accounted for 23% of total gross profit the final quarter, is likely to come under close scrutiny again when it posts its annual results.

The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has increased since Boris Johnson took over as prime minister, meaning employers are likely to have become more cautious about hiring staff.

Investors will be looking to Hays for guidance on the outlook and any remarks about the potential impact of a hard Brexit.

Hays expects operating profit for the year to be in line with analysts’ forecasts of about GBP248.2mln, compared to GBP243.4mln last year.

Oil prices key for Hunting

There will be few surprises from oil services group Hunting PLC (LON:HTG) when it reports its interims, with the FTSE 250 firm having previously forecast higher revenues and EBITDA in a trading update in June.

Oil prices, however, have slipped a little since then, so investors will be on the lookout for any commentary on whether the lower price has impacted the activity levels of Hunting’s customers.

US GDP data

In economic data, the second estimate of US gross domestic product for the second quarter and the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation will be in focus.

The market is expecting a downward revision to second-quarter US economic growth to 1.8% from the initial reading of 2.1%, below President Donald Trump’s 3% target.

Thursday August 29:

Finals: Hays PLC (LON:HAS)

Interims: Chesnara PLC (LON:CSN), Churchill China PLC (LON:CHH), Hunting PLC (LON:HTG), Gym Group PLC (LON:GYM)

Trading statements: Amigo Holdings PLC (LON:AMGO)

AGM: Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH)

Ex-dividends to clip 0.8 points off FTSE 100: Auto Trader Group PLC (LON:AUTO), InterContinental Hotels PLC (LON:IHG), St James’s Place PLC (LON:STJ)

Economic data: US weekly jobless, US GDP, US pending home sales, US advanced goods trade balance

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