Once again, Tesco has proven itself immune to grisly trading conditions afflicting the sector.
The UK’s biggest retailer, which is in the midst of launching its US operation, notched up domestic like-for-like growth of 4.8 per cent in its third quarter and total group sales rose 11.8 per cent. Citi, advising buy, said the figures “show a robust performance in a tough consumer environment and against competitors that have sharpened up their acts”.
At the other end of the scale, Citi sent Woolworths’ share price to a record low of 14.5p at one point on Tuesday, having cut its price target from 23p to 12p. The broker warned that Woolies faced “ferocious long-term pressures”.
Moss Bros’ shares plunged ahead of a profit warning on Wednesday. House broker Landsbanki argued that the retailer’s strong balance sheet would enable it to weather the storm and that Moss Bros “should prove to be a long-term winner”.
Marks & Spencer launched its first dollar-denominated bond issue in the US. Proceeds of the US$800 million (£393.4 million) offer will be used partly to fund the share buy-back programme unveiled at last month’s interims. The retailer said the initiative would “introduce US bond investors to the group and diversify its investor base”.
JP Morgan maintained its overweight stance on DIY group Kingfisher following last week’s third-quarter update. The broker welcomed better-than-expected cost control, the effects of store renewals and signs of easing gross-margin pressure at B&Q.
However, Investec advised sell and said: “The shares continue to trade at a premium to the sector, reflecting recovery hopes. Our view of the UK housing market and consumer spending suggests this is unlikely in 2008.”
Kaupthing was pleased by the appointment of former George at Asda boss Angela Spindler as Debenhams managing director. The broker observed that, while Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman is “a great and intuitive retailer, he is not a born-and-bred clothing retailer. Angela will bring this important dimension to the board”.
The Competition Commission provisionally cleared Game’s takeover of rival Gamestation. Game will issue a trading update on Tuesday that Numis expects to be “very strong”.
Blue Oar hailed “excellent” interims from AIM-listed e-tailer Asos and noted: “Trading continues to double year on year, which is a remarkable achievement, given consumer sentiment.”
Home shopping giant N Brown sold its Zendor fulfilment business and bought womenswear brand Nightingales. Buy, urged Numis, which likes N Brown’s “double-digit EBIT margins, cash-generative model and focus on a niche customer segment”.