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Ian Pollard – Sainsbury Beats The Pessimists

Sainsbury J plc SBRY expects full year underlying profit before tax will be moderately ahead of published consensus after a strong third quarter produced a rise of 1.1% in like for like sales, excluding fuel, for the 15 weeks to the 6th January. Groceries online and convenience saw growth of 8.2% and 7.3% respectively leading to a rise of 2.3% in total grocery sales. The icing on the cake was that general merchandise and clothing outperformed the market in challenging conditions. Online now accounts for 20% of total group sales lending support to those who expect families to continue replacing the car for shopping, in favour of the armchair. The size of the turnround in Grcocery can be seen from the fact that last years third quarter rise over 2015/16 came in at 0.3% compared to this years 2.3% rise over last year.

Taylor Wimpey plc TW updates that the fundamental housing market remained solid in 2017 and the company’s trading performance was good. Housing completions for the year to 31st December rose by a comparatively modest 5% with major factors favouring the industry continuing to be low interest rates and the governments Help to Buy Scheme. Must be great to be in an industry where government helps to keep your market overheated, year after year.The average selling price on private completions grew by 3% save that in Spain it actually fell slightly – presumably no government help there!

Page Group PAGE was held back in quarter four by a miserable performance in the UK which showed a fall of 2.8% in gross profit compared to growth well into double digits in the rest of the world. Those old UK favourites of challenging market conditions and the impact of macro economic factors are held responsible for the UK letting the side down.For the full year 22 countries produced record gross profits with an average rise of 9.9% in what was a record year.Nor only was the UK not one of the 22, it produced, again, a comparatively abysmal perfornance with a fall of 3.8%.

Ted Baker TED produced a good retail performance over Christmas, with retail sales for the 8 weeks from the 12th November to 6th January showing growth of 10.5% at constant currency rates. This was however overshadowed by a particularly strong performance from e commerce which produced growth of 35%.

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