Thursday preview: EU leaders’ summit, BAE Systems in focus

In all likelihood, all eyes on Thursday will be on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, with investors trying to anticipate what the next turn in events might hold.

Significant in that respect, the European Union has called an extraordinary meeting of its leaders to discuss triggers for potential future sanctions.

Stateside meanwhile, Richmond Federal Reserve President, Tom Barkin, is due to deliver a speech at 1400 GMT, followed by his counterpart at the Cleveland Fed, Loretta Mester, at 1700 GMT.

On the data side of things, investors will be watching the latest initial weekly jobless claims numbers and new home sales figures for the month of January.

Back on home shores, the Confederation of British Industry will release its distributive trades survey for February at 1100 GMT.

For BAE Systems’s fourth quarter, UBS analyst Celia Fornaro has penciled-in a 3% rise in sales year-on-year to reach £11.4bn, reflecting “supportive defence trends”, led by a 30% jump in sales at its Electronic Systems division.

Full-year sales meanwhile were pegged to have come in at £21.4bn, in line with the consensus, resulting in earnings before interest, taxes, and amortisation of £2.22bn.

Looking out to 2022 as a whole, Fornaro was anticipating net sales of £22.7bn up 4% organically and earnings before interest and tax of £2.4bn on margins up by 200 basis points to 10.6%.

FY 2022 free cash flows were seen reaching £1.38bn.

“We remain positive on the demand environment for BAE through 2022, as defence trends appear supportive across the core markets, including the US,

UK, Australia and Europe, and should drive further growth in the order intake.”

“[…] However being mostly a defence name (c.95% of sales) with nuclear exposure, BAE’s valuation is likely to remain capped, in our view, given continued growth in the ESG momentum.”

Fornaro also noted US rival Huntington’s concerns around Continuing Resolution delaying progress on key defence programmes.