Store stocks of all types ticked up over the week as the market overall improved, but general retailers still significantly lag the All-share index over the year.
There was much analysis of Tuesday’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, which set out the bigger economic picture against which retailers operate.
Economists at Shore Capital thought the measures outlined by George Osborne “modest” and noted: “Over the next few years the measures announced have broadly offsetting effects on personal disposable income.”
Broker Singer picked up on the latest consumer confidence data from Gfk NOP, which showed that sentiment remains shaky. Singer observed: “The eurozone crisis and the growing likelihood that the UK will slip back into recession are weighing on consumers’ minds.”
Numis remained bearish on Dixons after last week’s results. The broker reasoned: “We see Dixons as vulnerable to ongoing channel-shift share losses and margin dilution, which cost savings can only offset to a limited extent.
“The electricals space is one of the most difficult in which to trade at the current time and we remain sellers of Dixons, fearing the structural changes occurring will keep them on the back foot for some time to come.”
Outdoors specialist Blacks Leisure issued a profit warning as a result of the tough consumer climate. Seymour Pierce, which rates the retailer a sell, said: “The more immediate issue for the business is that it needs funding to execute its strategic plan and a constructive dialogue has been maintained with its bank, but with net debt forecast at £32m for the full-year pre-downgrade, we believe it will remain a challenge to come up with an acceptable solution for the company’s long-term future.”
AIM-listed Jacques Vert also warned on profits. Seymour Pierce, the house broker, cut its full-year forecast from £5.5m to £4m.
Topps Tiles, which unveiled prelims on Tuesday, is on Espirito Santo’s buy list.
The broker, a market maker in Topps’ shares, said the figures were at the top-end of consensus and sees the retailer as lowly valued. “While there is no short-term catalyst for a re-rating, we think Topps will emerge from this downturn stronger,” said the broker.
Oriel upgraded fashion retailer Supergroup from sell to hold following the retailer’s steep share price fall – down 51% since June. Ahead of results this month, the broker said: “We are far from thinking that SuperGroup has fundamentally turned the corner, but the shares have now fallen to a valuation that discounts further disappointment [on results day] and have limited short-term downside.”