Tuesday preview: UK Parliament, Ferguson in focus

updated: 25 March 2019 at 1:29pm Author: Alexander Bueso

(Sharecast News) - Investors will continue to keep a very close eye on the proceedings in the House of Commons, but after the Prime Minister indicated on Monday that she still lacked sufficient backing to get her withdrawal proposal past Parliament, the market spotlight may shift to the States.
In particular, a raft of indicators linked to that country's housing market - one of the weakest sectors of the American economy at present - is scheduled to be published, including data on housing starts and permits covering the month of February and home price indices for January from the FHFA and Standard&Poor's.

The Conference Board is also due to publish its US consumer confidence gauge for the month of March.

To take note of nonetheless, at 2200 GMT MPs were set to vote on three alternative amendments to the government's Brexit motion.

Among the companies that are set to update markets on Tuesday is US-exposed Ferguson.

Analysts at Numis expect the plumbers' merchant will post first half profits of $742m, up from $674m in the comparable year ago period, with operating profits on an EBIT basis perhaps ahead by over 10% for the second quarter.

"Overall we expect no change to FY estimates and retain the view that Ferguson is a quality play on organic and acquisitive growth in sedate US markets, which in our view is not reflected in the rating," said analyst James Beard in a research note sent to clients.

For Fever-Tree's pre-close trading update, analysts at Morgan Stanley don't anticipate any surprises on the P&L, given how the company had updated shareholders as recently as January.

However, they note that Charles Gibb, who runs the company's US business, "an important market for the Fever-Tree equity thesis", is due to meet analysts for the first time on Tuesday.

In the case of Carnival, Morgan Stanley has pegged the cruise line operator's first quarter earnings per share at 39 US cents, versus company guidance for between $0.40-0.44, for a 25% reduction from their year-earlier level on the back of higher fuel costs and depreciation.

Looking out to the following quarter, the investment bank's analysts expect the outfit to chart a course towards EPS of $0.65-0.70, straddling their own estimate of $0.68, although they conceded that they had not factored-in the impact of recent increased fuel costs.

"The stock is trading at 12.2x 2019e P/E, below its long-run average of 14.7x," they said.

"While this looks cheap, we do not see any short-term catalyst given we expect a continued weak yield guide and there is some fuel cost pressure limiting scope for EPS guidance upgrades."

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