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'Day From Hell' looms as US$3t of companies post earnings

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If you think your Thursday looks bad, spare a thought for James Edwardes Jones. The RBC analyst is bracing for what he calls the busiest earnings day he's experienced in about 20 years covering the consumer-goods industry.

[LONDON] If you think your Thursday looks bad, spare a thought for James Edwardes Jones. The RBC analyst is bracing for what he calls the busiest earnings day he's experienced in about 20 years covering the consumer-goods industry.

Edwardes Jones plans to arrive at RBC Europe's London offices along the River Thames about the time the world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, reports results at 6 am local time. Fifteen minutes later he has Nestle SA, followed by Danone at 6.30. Then come Diageo Plc and British American Tobacco Plc, along with a trading update from Britvic Plc, all before the morning team meeting at 7.15 am.  Next up are calls with executives of some of those companies at 8 am, 9.30 am, 1 pm and 2 pm. Edwardes Jones has client notes to write before his final set of results from L'Oreal SA at 5 pm - 11 hours after the first batch. Other retail or consumer-goods companies reporting Thursday include French grocer Casino SA, UK bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral Group Plc and Paris-based luxury conglomerate Kering.

"There has never been a day like that," Edwardes Jones said. His recipe for getting through the day: "Maybe a quadruple espresso."

Across London's financial district, analysts are readying themselves for what Martin Deboo at Jefferies called a "day from hell": a bumper earnings session in which European companies worth more than US$3 trillion are set to report results, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Roche, VW Consumer-sector specialists have it worst, with almost US$1 trillion worth of listed companies lined up, ranging from drinks giants to cosmetics makers. But other sectors will be busy, too. Pharmaceutical giants Roche Holding AG, Bayer AG and AstraZeneca Plc are on tap, along with telecommunications providers Orange SA, Telefonica SA and Telecom Italia SpA and transportation giants Volkswagen AG, Airbus SE and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

While the earnings calendar is replete with busy Thursdays in most quarters, companies in past years have managed to space out their earnings more. In the consumer sector, Nestle used to publish its half-year results in August. AB InBev last year reported a day later than the rest of its peers. Danone, AB InBev and Diageo all have new heads of investor relations this year, which may have contributed to scheduling changes.

It won't just be a busy day for analysts and baristas. The flurry of earnings, which begins with a mad rush in the morning and barely lets up, means fund managers will be inundated with dozens of broker reports. That could create volatility in share prices as the recipients struggle to digest notes that they use to help make decisions on whether to add or dump shares, said James Amoroso, investor relations consultant and former analyst.

"The buy-side will struggle," he said. "The sell-side will be going into meltdown."  Analyst Notes With so many companies reporting, Edwardes Jones said analysts will just try to spot results that differ from expectations. Without time for complete analysis, notes will be even more abbreviated than normal, heavy on analyst shorthand like "OG" (organic growth) and "RIG" (real internal growth).

For analysts feeling overburdened on Thursday, there's at least one upside to so many companies reporting all at once.

"It used to be hard to find a two-week gap in the summer" for a vacation, Jefferies analyst Deboo said. This year, that won't be a problem.

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