Analysts attack 'bonkers' bunching of retailers' results

Research shows that clashes have increased over the past five years

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Analysts have warned that retailers’ refusal to compromise on their financial reporting days will lead to increasing numbers of “fixture pile-ups” like last week’s “Super Thursday”, that made it all but impossible for them to effectively cover the results of several important companies.

An analysis by N+1 Singer’s Matthew McEachran showed that such clashes have increased over the past five years. According to the research, while retailers have always sought to avoid reporting data on Mondays and Fridays, there has been a steady rise in incidences of “bunching” seen on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Mr McEachran said that when he first looked at the issue in 2011 some 70 per cent of retail updates fell on those two days – with 71 per cent of the Thursdays involving two or more companies, and half involving three or more. Since then, more companies have joined the market, leading to days like Thursday, when five or more report.

The seven companies issuing trading updates last Thursday led to a rapid succession of conference calls, two of which clashed. Firms reporting included the John Lewis Partnership, Dixons Carphone and Home Retail Group.

Mr McEachran has shared his analysis with the investor relations departments of several of the companies he covers, but so far there has been little sign of a willingness to address the issue, with the exception of Morrisons.

He said: “It is bonkers that companies all opt for the same day to announce results – but it was ever thus …  With about 15 new companies listed over the last two years the situation is actually even worse now than it was.”

While some companies have sought to use bunching to “bury” bad news, Mr McEachran warned that the “degradation of in-depth analysis on reporting days would be bad news for companies and their investors alike, impacting both City and media communication”.

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