Thursday preview: AstraZeneca and Unilever report

AstraZeneca and Unilever will take centre stage Thursday when the FTSE 100 companies reveal their first quarter results.

AstraZeneca and Unilever will take centre stage Thursday when the FTSE 100 companies reveal their first quarter results.

Drug giant AstraZeneca is expected to report an earnings per share of $1.41, compared to the group's consensus of $1.37, according to Panmure Research.

"The stock has significantly outperformed the market this year and investors should look to taking profits as we do not expect these results to be catalysts to further outperformance," the broker said, reiterating a 'hold' recommendation.

Earlier this month, the biopharmaceutical business announced positive results from a study of fostamatinib, an oral drug being developed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

In the phase III study, designed to assess the efficacy and safety of fostamatinib, the drug achieved a "statistically significant improvement" in the ACR20 [American College of Rhematology] response rate in patients compared to a placebo.

Meanwhile, Panmure anticipates Unilever will deliver a healthy 6.0% like-for-like growth in the first quarter, slightly ahead the 5.6% consensus.

The consumer goods company last year reported its highest growth quarter with an 8.4% like-for-like growth.

Panmure said an unseasonably cold European March was likely to have affected ice-cream sales but an early Easter will provide some benefit.

"Unilever remains our favourite large cap stock given its ability to deliver superior growth from its attractive emerging market positions, although we would like to see it find more acquisitions given the successes of Alberto Culver and Kalina," the analyst said. It recommended a 'buy' rating.

Thursday April 25th

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

Bloomberg Consumer Confidence (US) (14:45)

Continuing Claims (US) (13:30)

Initial Jobless Claims (US) (13:30)

Q3

AstraZeneca, Banco Santander SA, Polski Koncern Naftowy Orlen S.A. GDR(Reg S), Unilever

GMS

European Assets Trust NV (Regd)

IMSS

Admiral Group, Aer Lingus Group, AZ Electronic Materials SA (DI), British American Tobacco, Namakwa Diamonds Ltd. (DI), Playtech Ltd., Senior

AGMS

Acencia Debt Strategies Ltd., Admiral Group, Aggreko, ARC Capital Holdings Ltd, AstraZeneca, Barclays, Berendsen, Biome Technologies. BlackRock World Mining Trust, British American Tobacco, COLT Group SA, Croda International, Dialight, DP World Limited, Electric Word, EP Global Opportunities Trust, European Assets Trust NV (Regd), Filtrona PLC, Forbidden Technologies, Guaranty Trust Bank GDR (Reg S), International Personal Finance, JPMorgan Claverhouse Inv Trust, Kimberly Enterprises NV, Kolar Gold Ltd., Powerflute Oyj (DI), Premier Foods, SpaceandPeople, Synety Group, Taylor Wimpey, Tomco Energy, Volkswagen AG, Wolfson Microelectronics

UK ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

GDP (Preliminary) (09:30)

Index of Services (09:30)

FINAL DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE

Anglo American, Maintel Holdings, Shore Capital Group Ltd.

Q1

AstraZeneca, Banco Santander SA, Polski Koncern Naftowy Orlen S.A. GDR(Reg S), Unilever

RD

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