Uncertainty about prospects was sparked by cautious comments from Arcadia tycoon Sir Philip Green as he unveiled full-year results, even though the CBI’s monthly retail survey was better than expected.
Pali International took a positive view and said: “The ONS index does include the underperforming smaller retailers as well as the big retailers, but it may be that their sampling/weighting has gone askew again because the figures look odd in mix and in scale terms and no doubt will be revised up in due course.”
Following last week’s preliminary results from Debenhams TPG, the private equity group that backed the buyout of the department store group and remained an investor after its IPO, finally exited the business.
TPG disposed of its remaining 9.3% stake, bringing its total profit on its investment to £500m. The identity of the buyer had not been disclosed as Retail Week went to press but there was speculation it may be hedge fund Och-Ziff or an entrepreneur such as Micky Jagtiani, owner of Dubai-based retail group Landmark and an existing Debenhams shareholder.
Buy N Brown, advised Seymour Pierce. The broker noted the shares have been trading at a 20% discount to the sector but maintained that “opportunities abound” for the home shopping group. “N Brown dominates in a rapidly expanding outsize market that remains relatively underexploited,” said the broker. “The company has significant opportunity to develop the online offer, its international business and has made first moves into bricks and mortar.”
Game was down following a big fall in the shares of Gamestop, its US counterpart, on the back of poor industry data Stateside. Software drove a 1% rise in US game sales. Singer said: “This may back up our view that price cuts, especially in relation to Sony’s PS3, have been insufficient thus far to trigger the meaningful uplift in selling volumes that have been hoped for.”
Jessops was, astonishingly, the week’s biggest riser despite the recent wipeout of its equity. Fears have been expressed that private shareholders do not understand what has happened at Jessops so the shares should be suspended. However the stock exchange has said it is satisfied that an “orderly” market remains.
Marks & Spencer reveals its interim results next week. Brokers expect few surprises because the numbers come hard on the heels of M&S’s investor day. Charles Stanley rates M&S a hold and said: “We think the valuation looks cheap for the trough of the earnings cycle and expect consensus forecasts to continue to rise.”