The earthquake in Japan shook the stock markets worldwide as investors assessed what the costs, commercial as well as human, might be.
The across-the-board fall contributed to both food and general retailers alike outperforming the All Share index over the week - despite upsets such as an unexpectedly bad update from Argos-owner Home Retail - although both sectors lagged the market on a yearly basis.
The Japanese disaster hit luxury goods groups, which do well in the country. Burberry was one of the stocks most affected. It lost almost 7% of its value over the week as investors pondered the impact of the disaster on the high-end market.
Investec, which rates Burberry a buy, said: “Burberry derives about £50m of EBIT from Japan, its largest single market by revenue at retail values and the largest element of licensing revenues. Currently one of the joint venture’s stores is closed and there is clearly likely to be medium-term disruption to its department store concessions given power rationing etc.”
AIM-listed luxury goods group Mulberry was unaffected, however. It reported that profits for the year to the end of this month would beat market expectations and its shares soared 13% over the week.
Arden cut its price target for electricals group Dixons from 21p to 17p on the back of Home Retail’s disappointing update. The broker said Dixons’ prospects had been balanced between the effects of its renewal programme on one side and stormy trading conditions on the other and concluded: “After Christmas it looked like a score draw between the two, but the economic headwinds are clearly now getting the upper hand.”
JJB Sports expects its next round of capital raising to be around £65m and said it had had constructive discussions with big shareholders about their continued support. Separately, shareholders will vote on a proposed CVA next week.
JD Sports, which had been considering making an offer for JJB, said it would not be proceeding. JD complained it had been provided only with limited information.
Shore Capital welcomed regulatory clearance for Tesco’s acquisition of convenience store business Mills. The broker said it would improve Tesco’s coverage in the Northeast of England.
French Connection announced final results to the end of January above expectations. Pre-tax profits rose from £700,000 to £7.3m on sales up 2% to £205m, helped by a strong performance in wholesaling, license income and good control of costs. UK/Europe retail revenue fell by only 1.4% like for like and gross margins were flat with the previous year.
Broker Seymour Pierce changed its recommendation from buy to hold and said: “On our forecasts, EPS is forecast to increase from 6.4p to 8.0p. The stock has almost doubled since we upgraded at the beginning of the year and is now valued at 15 times our forecast 2011/12 earnings but at only 4.1 times EV/EBITDA. At these levels, we believe the stock is now more fairly valued.”