Weekly outlook: Glaxosmithkline and Unilever report as activist investors circle

Key events for UK wealth managers for the week starting 7 February

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Monday 7 February

  • – Trading statement from Lamprell
  • – Halifax UK house price index
  • – Full-year results from Glaxosmithkline
  • – In the US, quarterly results from Amgen, Simon Property, Tyson Foods and ON Semiconductor

Glaxosmithkline is one of several UK-listed firms with an activist investor on its tail, said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould and Danni Hewson, financial analyst.

Others include Unilever, SSE, Vodafone, Aviva and Shell. But, in the pharmaceutical company’s case, the activist is one of the most formidable and implacable of their kind, Elliott Management.

“Unilever’s £50bn bid for the whole of Consumer Healthcare has helped to take Glaxosmithkline’s share price to a 12-month high and within touching distance of its pre-pandemic levels,” Mould and Hewson said.

“But with the shares trading no higher than they did in 1998 that is unlikely to appease Elliott, even if the rejected Unilever offer looks to confirm the merits of the spin-off plan when it comes to unlocking value from the business.”

Tuesday 8 February

  • – Full-year results from BP, Ocado and MicroFocus
  • – Trading updates from SSE, Bellway, TUI and DCC
  • – Japanese wage growth
  • – BRC UK retail sales
  • – US NFIB smaller companies survey
  • – In Japan, quarterly results from Softbank and Nissan Motor
  • – In Europe, quarterly results from BNP Paribas
  • – In the US, quarterly results from Pfizer, Chipotle Mexican Grill, KKR, Warner Music, Yum! China, Lyft, Peloton, Goodyear and Harley Davidson

Wednesday 9 February

  • – Full-year results from Smurfit Kappa
  • – First-half results from Barratt Developments, PZ Cussons and Dunelm
  • – US oil inventories
  • – In Japan, quarterly results from Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Renasas
  • – In Europe, quarterly results from L’Oréal, AP Møller-Maersk, Deutsche Bőrse, Siemens Energy and Pandora
  • – In the US, quarterly results from Walt Disney, Uber, Yum! Brands, Fox and MGM Resorts
  • FCA consultation ‘Future Regulatory Framework Review: proposals for reform’ closes

Thursday 10 February

  • – Full-year results from Astrazeneca, Unilever and Relx
  • – First-half results from Redrow and MJ Gleeson
  • – Trading updates from Watches of Switzerland and S&U
  • – US inflation figures
  • – Monetary policy decision from the European Central Bank
  • – US weekly unemployment claims
  • – In Japan, quarterly results from Tokyo Electronc
  • – In Europe, quarterly results from TotalEnergies, Siemens, Pernod Ricard, Société Générale, Arcelor Mittal, Vestas Wind – Systems, Credit Suisse and Delivery Hero
  • – In the US, quarterly results from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Philip Morris, Illumina, Coinbase, Kellogg, Affirm and Zillow

Having taken a verbal beating from Fundsmith founder Terry Smith of late, pharma giant Unilever’s shares are down by a little over 10% over the past year, whereas the FTSE is up by some 15%.

Mould and Hewson said: “Shareholders ran for cover when it emerged in early January that Unilever had offered to pay £50bn from the consumer products business that jointly-owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.

“GSK’s demand for £60bn prompted fears that Unilever would overpay and saddle itself with too much debt and although it has backed away from that deal, [CEO] Jope may still be on the prowl for other targets.”

The AJ Bell duo added that the results statement will “be scrutinised for more comments on strategy and any response to the arrival of the share register of activist investor Nelson Peltz of Trian Partners”.

Friday 11 February

  • – Full-year results from Lancashire Holdings and British American Tobacco
  • – Trading statement from Tate & Lyle
  • – German inflation figures
  • – UK industrial, manufacturing and construction output
  • – In Europe, quarterly results from Volvo Car

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