Food and general retailers both underperformed the market, despite profit advances reported by Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s.
The BRC’s monthly sales data for October is likely to have unnerved investors. Shore Capital said: “Momentum in the run into the important Christmas period is far from stellar, something we sense most companies anticipated but did not hope for.”
M&S’s shares fell 7.2p on the day that new chief Marc Bolland unveiled his “evolution not revolution” vision for the retailer, which overshadowed a rise in profits. UBS, advising buy, said Bolland’s review “looks sensible”. Numis, advising hold, said: “Although lacking fireworks, we believe this review addresses the key challenges and view it positively.”
Hold Sainsbury’s recommended Shore Capital after “in line” first-half results from the grocer. Sainsbury’s share price is at a premium to some rivals. Aside from bid gossip, the broker said: “It also reflects a management that is liked by the market and a team expediting a clear strategy to good effect, extending the brand into new geographies and product categories.”
Broker Jefferies was not pleased by Tesco’s performance in the latest Kantar grocery data for October.
Jefferies said: “If the business is currently delivering store openings in line with plans then cash sales growth of 3.3% in October suggests a like-for-like decline in excess of 1%.”
Bernstein agreed that Tesco’s numbers were “somewhat disappointing” but prefers Tesco to Sainsbury’s “on valuation and due to its longer-term growth prospects from retailing services and international”.
Entertainment group HMV was up as it emerged that Russian tycoon Alexander Mamut had bought a 3% stake. Arden Partners said Mamut’s interest reflected “a huge valuation anomaly” in HMV’s shares. The broker maintained: “HMV is priced to fail in three years, but the management strategy to turn HMV into an entertainment superbrand may yet succeed.”
SuperGroup, the fashion specialist that floated earlier this year, was in demand ahead of an update on Wednesday showing group sales growth of 68.4% to £57.5m. Broker Singer said the shares were up with events and has a target price of £10.32. House broker Seymour Pierce increased its target from £13 to £15 and said SuperGroup’s “exceptional prospects” are not properly reflected in its rating relative to Asos.