PREVIEW: Big four sales fall bodes ill for Morrisons

Aldi, Lidl and the Co-op continue to take market share away from the Big Four

Morrisons supermarket trolleys
Will the revival at Morrisons prove to be short-lived?

After Sainsbury's disappointed the market on Wednesday it will be sector peer Morrisons next to give a clue as to the health of the supermarket sector.

After the dividend was slashed at the full-year results, investors will be hoping most of the bad news is out there, while a little more good news, in the form of a continuation of the sales revival in the second half of the last financial year, would not go amiss either.

Data on Wednesday from market research group Kantar Worldpanel suggested good news might be in short supply, however, as sales at the big four – Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons – fell on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of the year fell for the first time in a year.

Morrisons' sales were down 2.6%.

Home lending leader Provident Financial said in February it had made a good start to 2016.

Its Vanquis Bank and Moneybarn business continued to trade strongly and the home credit business enjoyed “a very satisfactory” collections performance, the company said.

Peel Hunt expects a continuation of the trends and said each of the business units has the potential to grow over the medium term.

Significant announcements expected

Interims: Bankers Petroleum Ltd (LON:BNK), Beazley PLC (LON:BEZ), BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A), GW Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:GWP), Inmarsat Plc (LON:ISAT), Lancashire Holdings Ltd (LON:LRE), Millennium & Copthorne Hotels PLC (LON:MLC), The Sage Group PLC (LON:SGE)

Trading statements: Derwent London PLC (LON:DLN), esure Group PLC (LON:ESUR), IMI PLC (LON:IMI), Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), Provident Financial PLC (LON:PFG), RSA Insurance Group PLC (LON:RSA), Smith & Nephew PLC (LON:SN.)

Economic: UK – Halifax House Prices Index, Services PMI. US – Weekly unemployment claims

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