The FTSE 100 closed at a 10-month high on Tuesday. Food and general retailers alike were both up over the week although neither matched the All-Share rise.
The dog days of August meant there were few corporate disclosures. DIY group Focus’s successful CVA put the spotlight on listed competitors such as Kingfisher
and Home Retail (p10), but both shrugged off their rival’s potential recovery to advance over the week.
Investec switched its recommendation on Game to buy from hold. The broker said the entertainment retailer is “one of the more undervalued plays in the sector” and it has changed stance “in light of improving medium-term industry growth prospects and encouraging gross margin growth potential”.
Elsewhere in entertainment, Oriel fears that there could be “storm clouds on the horizon” for HMV. The broker moved to hold from buy and warned that forecasts could be at risk beyond 2010.
“We believe the music category will continue to hold back sales growth,” said Oriel. “Video sales will be lacklustre and the hitherto significant driver of top line growth, games and technology, is unlikely to be able to make up for the other categories’ weaknesses.”
WHSmith remained popular as its year-end approached. Altium upgraded from hold to buy, noting: “One of the man attractions of WHSmith is its predictability and management’s ability to meet expectations.” Pali International, which also rates WHSmith a buy, reported that the retailer’s management were “surprisingly confident” at a recent meeting and argued: “WHSmith looks a very good blend of defensive and growth characteristics.”
Singer was pleased by what it saw on a visit to Marks & Spencer’s Bluewater store, such as improvements to the womenswear offer. The broker upped its profit forecast by £10m to £535m but warned: “In spite of the encouraging signs of change, we feel the current valuation differential is not justified.” The broker has a target price of 320p.
Ahead of electricals group DSGi’s AGM and trading update next week, Shore Capital repeated its buy advice. It said: “We believe management has set out a credible turnaround strategy and DSGi has the scale to take on Best Buy Europe when it arrives next year.”
Seymour Pierce upgraded quirky fashion group Ted Baker from sell to hold and upped profit forecasts. The broker expects sales and gross margins to improve against weak comparatives, and past discounting is unlikely to be repeated on the same scale.