General retailers took a bashing as turmoil embroiled the markets generally. Fears about the eurozone crisis and political tension in the Far East undermined the FTSE - every blue-chip stock fell on Tuesday.
Marks & Spencer’s full-year results, however, came in a little ahead of expectations. Panmure Gordon, advising buy, expects continued improvement and maintained: “Although the company says that current trading is merely ‘satisfactory’, we get the impression things are going better than that.”
But Credit Suisse, which rates M&S underperform, was cautious. The broker said: “The shares now look better value, if one believes that new management will resurrect the company’s fortunes in a more meaningful way than the Rose team has managed.
“But there are likely to be some issues along the way and we continue to feel the accounts have been run aggressively, leading us to have reservations over the sustainability of the results declared, especially in a tougher demand environment.”
Confectioner Thorntons is parting company with chief executive Mike Davies and issued a profit warning after continued tough trading in its stores and a blip in sales of its product through other retailers.
Broker Execution Noble said Thorntons’ shares are likely to be stuck in limbo for some time, while a new chief executive is sought and strategy rethought.
Buy Burberry, said Shore Capital after what it described as “excellent” full-year results. Adjusted pre-tax profits rose 23% to £215m. Shore noted: “We believe Burberry is an under-exploited brand and a fantastic long-term growth story with significant opportunity to expand geographically as well as diversify into new product categories.”
Oriel analysts came away impressed from a meeting with SuperGroup’s management and issued a buy note. The broker enthused: “Growth will be exponential here, making the shares a little awkward to value, but if we are right about the sustainability and potential of the brand, the shares have masses of upside. The year-two multiple is barely a premium to the general retail sector, and that spells cheap to us.”
Mothercare, which last week reported it had surpassed £1bn in sales but posted full-year profits just shy of expectations, features on the buy lists of Numis and Singer. Numis said: “We are encouraged by the operating leverage delivered from the international operation, which broadly offsets a more cautious view of UK like-for-likes.”
Singer maintained: “Mothercare is a highly differentiated business with strong management, a sound balance sheet and an extremely attractive international growth strategy.”
Next week brings an opportunity to gauge how the home sector is performing, with updates from Kingfisher and Topps.