A mixed bag of updates resulted in general retailers outperforming the All Share index, although they were still down week on week, while food groups managed to stay in positive territory.
Investors raised a glass to impressive interim results from wine specialist Majestic. Oriel, advising buy, was pleased by the ongoing popularity among customers of Majestic’s shift to a six-bottle minimum purchase and said: “This would suggest that there has been a fundamental change in the nature of trading, which we believe will continue to benefit the company.”
Maternity group Mothercare’s first-half figures showed a strong international performance but no retail baby boom in the UK. KBC Peel Hunt rates the retailer a hold. The broker said that the medium-term outlook remains good but cautioned: “Full-year group expectations may be challenged by the weak UK performance.”
Idiosyncratic fashion group Ted Baker posted an 8.6% retail sales rise in the 13 weeks to November 13 and wholesale turnover rocketed 76.2%. Hold, recommends Execution Noble, which said there is “good progress being made across all ranges and territories”. Arden Partners thought there could be upgrades following the update.
Halfords named Marks & Spencer numbers man Andrew Findlay as its new finance director. Investec said Findlay will be “a new face to the City” but “will arrive with the benefit of having worked for one of the most revered retail brands in the UK”.
M&S remains on UBS’s buy list following last week’s results and strategic update. The broker maintained its profit forecast of £745m for this year and said new boss Marc Bolland had unveiled “a number of sensible initiatives designed to lift the medium-term sales potential of the business”.
Following Sainsbury’s interims Jefferies said that the grocer is winning customers from Tesco. The broker, which rates Sainsbury’s a hold, noted: “Sainsbury’s confirmed the significant extent to which its trading strategy is focused on taking a larger share of wallet (and visits) from consumers that cross-shop the two - with still a long way to go in that process.”
Bernstein rates Sainsbury’s market-perform and said the first-half operating profit was “modestly disappointing”. Although there is potential for the grocer to continue to grow profitably and a bid is possible, its earnings multiples look “stretched”.
Add WHSmith advised Numis after last week’s update. Numis maintained: “With the recently announced £50m buyback ongoing, Kate Swann’s leadership secured for another stint, international growth in travel and ongoing margin gains we look for pre-tax profits of £92.9m.”
Next week Tesco will take analysts on a tour of Asian operations and electricals market leader Dixons Retail will post interims.