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WH Smiths Off On The Road to Recovery

Tesco TSCO  The 40% fall in net debt is probably the best item in Tesco’s preliminary results and they are perhaps entitled to boast of a turn round in quarter 4, except in its home markets of the UK and the Republic of Ireland where it still seems to have lost the plot. Group like for like sales growth for quarter 4 came in at 1.6%, with International showing a healthy 3.8% and Europe 4.1%. But where was the poor old UK ? Last of course, with a miserable rise of 0.9%, beaten by Ireland with 1%, hardly matching the company’s claim that it has become competitive again in those markets, which must be nonsense  when one looks at the growth of its German competitors.

Over the full year Tesco managed to produce zero growth, its performance in Europe and other  wealthier parts of the world overshadowed by continual decline in the UK and Ireland.

The second good thing is that Tesco has actually made a profit for the year of just over £1,046m. compared to the previous year’s disastrous £5 billion loss.

Tesco also proclaims that the customer is once again its prime focus and always will be, which is presumably why it stopped international delivery of online orders. Once again actions showing the emptiness of fair words.

Tesco can be praised for having stopped the rot.  It will be interesting to see how far it can go in the current year to begin growing new shoots.

WH Smith SMWH has at long last enjoyed a strong first half, with profit before tax for the 6 months to 29th February up by 11%. It says something about the state of the company when it can boast that flat like for like sales is its best result for many years. Cynics amongst us had often wondered for how long it could go on squeezing more profit out of declining revenue. What is particularly pleasing i that it has also done well in its traditional markets where stationary and books were particularly strong.

Halfords HFD produced strong quarter 4 growth with revenue for the 11 weeks to 1st April up by 3.2% but cycling became the laggard with Q4 like for like sales up by only 1.9% compared to motoring and car maintenance which rose by 3.5 and 3.9% respectively. Cycling revenue for the full year actially fell by 0.9%.

Telford Homes TEF anticipates profit before tax for the year to 31st March will be slightly above what market expectations as it benefits from continued investor interest and relatively affordable apartments in London where its average price remains comfortably below £600,000.

Walker Greenbank WGB is raising its final dividend by 25% after sales rose by 5.4% and profit before tax by 15.9% as it completes recovery from serious flooding

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