Investors filled their shopping trolleys with general retail and food stocks alike. The former outperformed the market despite lacklustre BRC sales data for November but are still down year on year.
Snow dominated headlines, but Shore Capital thinks Christmas will be “OK”. The broker said: “Most retailers have a tight grasp of costs, cash and bought-in product levels and so are expecting subdued demand conditions.
“Such a position makes for potentially robust financial outcomes and, should conditions be stronger than generally expected, there may yet be scope for positive surprises through positive operational gearing.”
Comet-owner Kesa’s interims failed to meet broker Singer’s expectations. Kesa has been subject to bid and break-up speculation, but Singer said: “After a strong run we suspect the shares are likely to edge back.”
Comet’s loss widened and Altium noted: “These numbers could see the market revert to its previous obsession over Comet, but we think there is value in Kesa and that it could be realised under management’s current plans.”
Computer entertainment group Game posted a 12% slide in UK and Ireland like-for-likes in the 44 weeks to December 4 and was down 7.6% in the final 18 weeks. Peel Hunt, advising hold, expected forecasts to be downgraded towards its own £38.6m level. Investec, recommending buy, expected to cut its forecast by about 5%.
Nomura reiterated its buy call on Tesco following what it described as a “robust” update (p11). Tesco also emerged a winner from the latest Kantar figures. Broker Bernstein rates Tesco outperform and prefers it over rival Sainsbury’s on valuation grounds and longer-term growth potential.
JJB Sports was again relegated by investors. It was the week’s biggest faller after cautioning on the profit outlook and flagging the likelihood of breaching covenants. JJB said it is “exploring further business restructuring options and considering alternative sources of finance”.
Cobra beers and curry were on the agenda for Mothercare analysts, who flew to India to see the retailer’s business in that rapidly growing market. Broker Arden observed: “The overseas side of Mothercare is genuinely exciting, which is why the shares are highly rated, but we think there is a danger that this is getting too much focus and people forget about the problems in the UK core business, where trading continues to be poor.”
Christmas trading is front of retailers’ minds but there will still be updates next week. Carpetright should give investors a feel for the big-ticket market, while fashion specialist SuperGroup posts interims.