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Housebuilder, Taylor Wimpey’s share price built up again, rising almost twelve per cent after it announced it would re-open all its sites in May.
The new-build specialist revealed that it planned to restart work in ‘a phased process’ from May 4 with some subcontractors returning to site a week later.
Taylor Wimpey has taken a hit since the start of the pandemic as house buying becomes less of a priority for most of the population. It said its sales had been affected since its sites closed and that completions in the past 16 weeks had slumped by 14 per cent although, its order book swelled by 12 per cent.
So, is this good news for the housebuilder or should investors still be wary?
Shares are now standing at 147.80p at the time of writing and some analysts are viewing the restart as a positive sign. Peel Hunt has issued a ‘buy’ rating and raised its target price to 230p, stating that Taylor Wimpey has continued to sell homes during lockdown and its sales are comparable to those achieved in the first quarter. Others were more cautious though, Hargreaves Lansdowne pointed out that the housebuilding sector as a whole could still fall victim to a prolonged recession and Liberium commented: “In spite of this positive update, we remain cautious on Taylor Wimpey, as we still need to see further evidence that the new strategy is delivering benefits and the margin can progress.”
Household stalwart Unilever saw its share price slump almost five per cent despite reassuring investors it would still pay its interim dividend.
Unilever, which makes hundreds of household and food products including Domestos, Magnum and Marmite revealed flat sales of 12.4 bn EUR for the first quarter of the year. While the group has seen an uplift in sales of cleaning products since the pandemic began, its ice-cream brands have suffered amidst the closure of restaurants and cinemas.
Unilever said it expected coronavirus to trigger ‘lasting changes’ in shoppers’ behaviour and announced it had scrapped full-year guidance because of the current uncertainty. It will still pay its June dividend of 36p a share, however.
With share prices now standing at 4,107p at the time of writing, is this a good time to buy into the group or are there further falls to come?
Sales were down across the globe because of the pandemic, with Asia taking the biggest hit with a sales drop of four per cent for the first quarter. UK and German markets were the most buoyant and sales of household products such as Cif and Domestos were up 2.4 per cent. Unilever is currently fighting a claim from Revenues and Customs about underpaid tax, which it disputes, but admits could cost it up to 600m EUR.
Opinions are divided about Unilever’s prospects – some say its results are disappointing considering the diversity of its portfolio. Michael Hewson from CMC Markets said: “The performance of the Unilever share price in recent months has been fairly disappointing given its position as a purveyor of a wider range of consumer food and staples.
‘At the end of last year, the company blamed challenging conditions in its South Asia markets, as well as West Africa for its underperformance.’
However, others have pointed out the strength of the global giant’s long-term performance – its stock is up 350 per cent over the last twenty years – and with a current price to earnings ratio of 19 some see this as a good entry level for the shares.
Fashion favourite, Boohoo, saw a share price surge of six per cent after it posted stellar full-year results.
The online retailer, which has a firm following in the teen and twenty-something market, revealed its revenue had jumped by 44 per cent to £1.2 bn, with pre-tax profit up 54 per cent to £92m to the end of February.
So, is this a good time to style up or has the stock reached its heights?
The retailer has not provided guidance for the year to February 2021 due to the current pandemic, and it has not recommended a dividend again to preserve cash, but it says it has enough headroom thanks to its ‘strong’ balance sheet.
Analysts seem to agree – Liberium has reiterated its ‘buy’ rating and price target of 330p, pointing to the retailer’s ‘healthy’ financial position. Hargreaves Lansdowne were also upbeat, pointing out that Boohoo’s low-price points and strong athleisure ranges were perfectly suited to the current situation when no-one wants to splurge on clothes that won’t really be seen. It did caution, however, that the recent acquisition of more ‘grown-up’ brands Karen Millen and Coast is a gamble and that with a current price to earnings ratio of 42.6 the fast fashion brand has some high expectations to fulfil.
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