Grocery and general merchandise giant Tesco edged down as the market digested the first set of results delivered by new boss Phil Clarke.
The Tesco chief joined broker Bernstein for an investor question-and-answer session in which he elaborated on his plans to maintain and develop the business. Clarke downplayed the prospect of a price war among the top food groups and reiterated his confidence in Tesco’s prospects at home and abroad.
Bernstein, a long-standing Tesco fan, stuck to its outperform stance and concluded: “The recent poor performance of Tesco’s stock creates a very attractive entry point into a well-run retailer with compelling long-term growth prospects driven by its international and retailing services businesses.”
Shore Capital noted Tesco’s acquisition of a stake in video-on-demand business Blinkbox, which it said “should mitigate some of the exposure of the declining DVD market and provide access to a growing remote market”.
Sports gear market leader Sports Direct, founded by controversial tycoon Mike Ashley, was flat as it delivered a pre-close update confirming that EBITDA this year will be at least £205m.
Oriel, advising buy, said: “Objections to management style are beginning to look increasingly trivial in the face of such strong earnings growth.” Seymour Pierce downgraded Sports Direct to hold from buy because of the 20% rise in its share price over the last quarter but increased its price target from 190p to 205p.
Buy Morrisons, Jefferies advised ahead of the grocer’s first quarter update a week today. The broker anticipates sector-leading like-for-like growth, excluding fuel and VAT, of 1.5% and said: “Combined with a strengthening space programme and continued meaningful self-help, the update should confirm that Morrison is well positioned to deliver despite the challenged UK consumer.”
Barclays Capital met Dixons boss John Browett earlier this month and was reassured on the electricals group’s ability to withstand torrid trading conditions. The broker said: “Management presented a very clear and detailed picture of the options they have to extract further savings, both from costs and working capital; ability to scale down their capex needs significantly, without impairing operations; and reduce their store space.”
Hold Home Retail, recommended Investec. The broker said: “Argos remains the key sentiment driver. Despite some positive and welcome moves to drive incremental sales, Argos is likely to see another year of negative like-for-like sales growth, especially in the absence of consumer appetite for big-ticket lines currently.”
As well as Morrisons, next week brings updates from big names including fashion bellwether Next.