General retail shares suffered another bad week when they once again underperformed the All Share index.
The food and drug sector did better but also edged down, although both Morrisons and Sainsbury’s inched upwards. The pair emerged even-stevens in terms of growth over the latest 12-week period covered by Kantar data and in the most recent four weeks Sainsbury’s came top.
Broker Jefferies observed that over the four weeks, the gap between winners and losers narrowed and said: “Morrisons has seen sales growth moderate, falling just behind Sainsbury’s, with sales growth of 5.5% versus the last reading of 7.5%. We expect that less new space contribution is the core reason as we annualise most of the impact of the Somerfield conversion openings.” Jefferies rates Morrisons a buy with a 282p price target.
Bernstein stuck to its longstanding attachment to Tesco, which it rates an outperform because of its diverse business base. The broker said: “Although there are modest differences in the UK growth rates of the companies in our coverage, we see differential exposure to alternative growth channels - for example international and retailing services - as more important drivers of relative group performance.” Bernstein rates Tesco an outperform with a 480p price target.
Panmure Gordon upgraded online fashion specialist Asos from hold to buy, partly as a result of its growing overseas business. The broker said: “The US-targeted site is due to launch in September. Asos is a world class player in one of the fastest growing retail sub-sectors.” The broker expects Asos’s shares to outperform peers and the market over 12 months.
Home Shopping group Findel’s shares plunged in the week it sold its Confetti and Iwantoneofthose.com businesses for £600,000. Confetti was then put into administration by new owner The Hut, prompting an outpouring of anxiety from brides-to-be about whether their big day would be spoiled as a result.
The Hut has ambitions to float but the Confetti debacle may set those back, implying at best clumsiness.
As for Findel, the deal prompted a lukewarm reaction. Numis said: “While the removal of the £4m drag on profitability is positive for Findel, the £600,000 clearly won’t make much of a dent in its debt position.”
And finally, there are changes among the analysts. Former Numis man Nick Coulter is moving to Nomura to cover food, while Philip Dorgan, formerly with Ambrian, is joining Altium to cover retail and ecommerce.