Equity Briefing: Royal Mail, Nichols and Antofagasta

Royal Mail is due to release a trading update this morning, soft drinks firm Nichols will release interim results, and Chilean copper miner Antofagasta publishes a second-quarter production report.

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Royal Mail

Royal Mail will release a trading update this morning ahead of its annual general meeting today. This will be the first insight into how it has performed since it released its annual results in May covering the year to the end of March.

Royal Mail has transformed itself during the pandemic, shifting more toward parcels from its traditional business of sending letters and investing in its digital operations, which sent revenue and earnings soaring last year. The update is likely to focus on volumes and revenue as well as the outlook for the remainder of the year, having previously warned the future was too uncertain to provide specific targets.

Nichols

Soft drinks company Nichols will report interim results today. Having been hit hard by the pandemic, demand has been steadily recovering.

First-quarter revenue was down 5.9% year-on-year, but that was a smaller decline than seen in 2020 and investors will hope that trend continued in the second. The company said in April that international sales were helping offset the loss of sales to restaurants and other hospitality sites in the UK during lockdown – an issue that should have eased now that restrictions have been eased. That should lead to a faster recovery going forward. Watch out for any form of guidance for the rest of the year after it withdrew its targets earlier this year.

Antofagasta

Chilean copper miner Antofagasta will release a second-quarter production update this morning.

Restrictions are disrupting operations in Chile, forcing it to reduce the numbers of workers on-site and postponing non-critical work. Antofagasta warned in April that stricter rules introduced in late March forced it to slimdown operations further, which could impact output in the second quarter.

Some rules have been eased recently as its vaccination programme progresses and cases decline, but some restrictions remain in place. Production guidance for the full year will also be in the spotlight, with Antofagasta currently aiming to produce 730,000 to 760,000 tonnes at a net cash cost of $1.25 per pound, with output weighted more to the second half. There is potential for this to be upgraded at some point as it assumes coronavirus restrictions will remain in place for the rest of the year, but this will rely on how the pandemic pans out in Chile.

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