The Investment Column: A test of the M&S mettle
Thursday 29 January 1998
The shares fell 19.5p to 558p on the news that M&S group sales in the five weeks to 3 January rose 8 per cent on the same period last year and by 6.4 per cent in the 17 weeks to 24 January. Given the average increase in UK selling space was 2 per cent, the figures are hardly thrilling but after the horror stories from some other retailers they are hardly a reason to off-load the stock.
Clothing and accessories were strong while childrenswear was subdued due to tough competitive conditions, a factor that has wounded Mothercare owner Storehouse too. Home-furnishings growth slowed but that was expected after the soar-away rises of last year. Food was also a disappointment. Across the group, gross margins were maintained but the cost of marking down increased stock levels in the sales was pounds 15m more than expected.
But the big hit has been in the Far East, where sales slumped 23 per cent in local currency terms over Christmas. The financial turmoil in those markets is a serious issue for M&S, which has 10 stores in Hong Kong and is looking at mainland China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. This is part of a pounds 2bn global expansion plan by the company and while Sir Richard Greenbury, the M&S chairman, likes to invest in a downturn to be ready for an upturn this will certainly test the group's mettle.
Analysts have been shaving their forecasts for the year to March to around pounds 1120m. On a forward rating of 20 they are not worth chasing but are still a solid hold.
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: 'These are completely fake' say singer's representatives
A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Israel to appropriate 400 hectares in West Bank for ‘state use’
Kate Upton nude pictures leak: Model's representatives 'looking into' authenticity of naked images
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...
£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...
£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...